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libra

From the author of White Noise (winner of the National Book Award) and Zero KIn this powerful, eerily convincing fictional speculation on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Don DeLillo chronicles Lee Harvey Oswald's odyssey from troubled teenager to a man of precarious stability who imagines himself an agent of history. When "history" presents itself in the form of twoFrom the author of White Noise (winner of the National Book Award) and Zero KIn this powerful, eerily convincing fictional speculation on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Don DeLillo chronicles Lee Harvey Oswald's odyssey from troubled teenager to a man of precarious stability who imagines himself an agent of history. When "history" presents itself in the form of two disgruntled CIA operatives who decide that an unsuccessful attempt on the life of the president will galvanize the nation against communism, the scales are irrevocably tipped.A gripping, masterful blend of fact and fiction, alive with meticulously portrayed characters both real and created, Libra is a grave, haunting, and brilliant examination of an event that has become an indelible part of the American psyche....

Title : Libra
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780143119258
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 461 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Libra Reviews

  • Paul Bryant
    2018-12-08 14:50

    I'm told that the Don DeLillo who wrote this masterpiece is the same guy who wrote Underworld and White Noise, but as far as I'm concerned that's a plainly ridiculous theory and I'm not buying it at all and I've hired a private investigator to get to the bottom of why there are two Don DeLillos and why this one hasn't sued the other idiot for giving him a bad name. It's a mystery. Libra is entirely great. Its vocals, its backing, the bass, the drums, man alive the drums, the harmonies - celestial, Wilsonian is the only word. And - of course - the lyrics. As we know it's about that JFK thing. The whole thing, all of it. So yes, this is the ur-conspiracy we are dealing with, which all the other conspiracies use as the template. Given my well-advertised detestation of all things conspiracytheoretical, you might think I would want to give Libra the widest of berths. Being a contrarian means I couldn't. I take contrary opinions to myself too. I had to pay my dues. I had to stare the god damned conspiracy in its jowles, I had to rummage in its belly and pick over what it ate last night, ugh, all its grimy details, its filthy postulates and its mind-damaging Agatha-Christie's-Murder-on-the-Orient-Express conclusion that - gasp, look away now - they ALL did it!So I looked and stared and rummaged and poked and turned affadavits over in my hand and ran the tape found in the camera up Marilyn Monroe's backside, all of that. Ech. It's so displeasing. It does not make you a better person. This book is like dancing with Don DeLillo, and dancing with the young President, and dancing with the handsome man who has no face, and cannot be named, while ten quaaludes are slushing through your blood system and dark hands are pouring margaritas for you at each slow waltzlike revolution of the enormous ballroom from whose windows the glitterball reveals gun barrels glinting. Through all the slow-as-the-Devonian-Age build up to even the first faint gleamings of the plot to kill John Kennedy your brain gets reformed, your aesthetic sense gets taken down and reworked with minor chords replacing all the major ones, its like a dream but a weird lovely one, one of those thousand year long dreams you wake from on some Sundays when the world can take long minutes to suck back into place... how long have I been away? Whose face is on my own head now? It takes so long to read Libra, it's such a slog through all this stuff which might have gone down like that or might on the other hand, or not, or partly.What DD does in his gradually accelerating sarabande is to take the absolute standard CIA/Mafia/Teamsters/FBI/Cubans conspiracy and weave all the ghosts and spirits together, voices humming like a hive, all the five hundred characters, into a symphony of incidence and co-incidence wittingly but at the same time blindly moving like a giant shoal of fate towards the moving target in the limousine in Dallas on the day that Deep Purple by Nino Tempo and April Stevens was number one on the Billboard charts.This is a fantastic novel. The imposter "Don DeLillo" could never have written it.

  • FrancoSantos
    2018-12-06 13:12

    Libra es donde convergen todas las teorías conspirativas que han ido surgiendo con el correr de los años, a partir del famoso 22 de noviembre del 1963, una fecha que, en palabras de DeLillo, quebró la columna vertebral del siglo en Estados Unidos. En Libra DeLillo propone que el asesino «oficial» del presidente Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, solo fue la cara visible de una conspiración mucho más grande y enrevesada, fundada desde el mismo corazón de los EE. UU., a partir de una decisión que muchos consideran un error de Kennedy, durante una invasión a Cuba (en la operación conocida como Bay of Pigs del 61) para derrocar a Fidel Castro. Por supuesto que Libra no necesariamente condice con lo que realmente piensa DeLillo (al menos no con exactitud), incluso ya lo ha hecho explícito en varias ocasiones, pero siempre es interesante llegar con literatura a lugares imposibles de la vida real.Leyendo reseñas de otros usuarios, me encontré con personas a las que les pasó lo mismo que a mí: este DeLillo de Libra no es el mismo que el DeLillo de, por ejemplo, White Noise. DeLillo es intensamente criticado por su modo de escribir, sus tramas insulsas y sus personajes planos y de cartón; sin embargo, en Libra queda claro que DeLillo es un grandísimo escritor, y no solo su modo de narrar es extraordinario, sino que es un escritor que se adapta. En White Noise, DeLillo utilizó una narración muy vacía y sin mucho cuerpo precisamente porque a aquello iba su libro, a criticar la deshumanización de la sociedad debido al consumismo desalmado. En Libra, la escritura de DeLillo adquiere un tono mucho más fragmentado, hasta asfixiante. En casi ningún momento el lector tiene plena constancia de lo que está sucediendo y de quién es cada personaje, como Nicholas Branch, entre datos solitarios que se juntan en coincidencias incognoscibles que alimentan la paranoia. Y para volver más desesperantes las cosas, quiebra la narración con frases que parecen salidas de la nada y aun así, de alguna forma, se sienten en armonía con lo que estabas leyendo. DeLillo juega con cambios de tiempo aleatorios y sin previo aviso, diálogos entre personajes que le hablan al aire, dentro de un soliloquio cortado por otras voces en el fondo y a las que también se debe escuchar, y todo este caos crea un clima que absorbe al lector en la misma conspiración. Pero principalmente quiero resaltar el aspecto que, en mi opinión, es el más valioso de Libra. DeLillo ha sabido establecer personajes tan complejos y tan bien desplegados que hasta asustan de su tridimensionalidad. DeLillo bebió de personas reales y las representó en papel sin casi perder su condición de reales. Se apoderó de Lee Oswald y lo encajó en literatura, en un Coming of Age trágico y plagado de malas influencias que hace que se llegue a sentir una clase de apego por Oswald, quizá lástima. Porque a eso va DeLillo, la verdadera historia se desarrolla detrás del telón. Personas como arañas en la oscuridad susurrándose entre sí son las que marcan el inicio de un tiempo y cierran otro. «La historia se compone de la suma de los elementos que no nos cuentan». DeLillo nos explica que la historia se gesta a nuestras espaldas y lo que vemos es solo un breve fragmento perdido del que se agarran los medios y la histeria social para explicar hechos de lo que nunca lograremos saber su verdad. Probablemente jamás se forme una segunda Comisión Warren que explique lo que la primera todavía no puede explicar, seguiremos de este lado de la historia, del lado de la luz, viendo efímeras chispas que se escapan de lo que se nos está prohibido observar. Porque así debe ser y aquí nos ha tocado estar.«Cuando estás convencido de que has visto todas las formas en que la violencia puede sorprenderte, aparece algo nuevo que ni siquiera habías imaginado. ¿Con cuánta fuerza golpean las balas para alcanzar a un hombre en el pecho y hacer que su sombrero vuele un metro y medio por los aires en línea recta? Fue una lección sobre las leyes del movimiento y un recordatorio para la humanidad entera de que nada es seguro».

  • Michael Finocchiaro
    2018-11-19 15:45

    This book of DeLillo was a brilliant dive into the background of Kennedy's presumed assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald (with a cameo of his killer Jack Ruby). It is well-written and well-paced and a great read. I would put it on the level with Mao II and White Noise but below Underworld. So an essential DeLillo as long as you have UW under your belt already.

  • mark monday
    2018-12-17 15:09

    a work of bright and ruthless genius, the jfk assassination as recounted by some alien being from the far future. well actually, not really, not at all. well actually, at times it felt like it. is delillo less than human or more than human? the novel makes no attempt to be historically factual. actually, the facts presented are reasonable and sound. the novel is historically factual, as much as anything can be. the narrative is, of course, almost too complex to be detailed. although it is, in its way, a straightforward narrative, straight as an arrow, straight as any history of well-known events could be. conspiracy theories, so many of them, competing with each other, often making complete sense as they are told, only to be collapsed by the next conspiracy theory. the conspiracy theory as just one version of the many-told tale, stories handed down from teller to teller. an interesting conceit. actually, more than that - storytelling is perhaps the point of the whole novel. what is the truth in a story? who is the real person behind the historical personage, behind the character in the story? the novel wonders: can reality ever truly be represented? such a humorous book at times. the jokes are secret jokes, told with a straight face. the deaths are no joke, no joke at all. the novel is dead serious. the death of lee harvey oswald is a harrowing, moving experience, the best sequence of many excellent sequences in the book. the novel is powerful and yet filled with minutiae, with meaningless detail. each detail is packed with meaning. it is a Choose Your Own Adventure, of sorts. astrology is real, it defines us and all of our actions. astrology is an illusion, as is motivation and circumstance and conspiracy and history itself. Libra is a post-modern classic. well, actually

  • Agnieszka
    2018-11-29 15:02

    One can readLibraas a political thriller or a voice in the discussion about who actually stood behind one of the most notorious political assassinations of the twentieth century. Shots in Dallas proved that this an event can not be easily interpreted, it melts in the mist of conjectures and hypotheses and still is a breeding ground for more and more daring conspiracy theories. (I’m not a huge fan of conspiracy theories, neither in books nor in real life. In fact we, in Poland, have enough these ones. People are divided on those who think that Smolensk was tragic plane accident and others who belive that it was a criminal assassination. Sorry for this personal comment). Libraoperates on three plans. The first one it is a story of Lee H. Oswald shown from his childhood in the Bronx, through his service in Japan, his romance with Marxism and stay in the Soviet Union until his death from Jack Ruby’s hand. Oswald is the title "Libra", the man full of contradictions, like the zodiacal sign of Libra, you really don’t know what could tip the scales on one or other side. From DeLillo's writing emerges portrait of a man without qualities, somewhat mysterious yet undecidable character - we fail to know what exactly his motivation was.On the second plan we get the conspiratorial activities of the special services and the criminal groups. Here the main roles play retired agents, members of the anti-Castro opposition, anti-communist activists, mafia. Independently of each other are preparing a provocation aimed at Kennedy. And finally, the third thread, which takes place many years after the assassination of Kennedy. The main protagonist here is a CIA analyst buried by Agency with meticulous facts and factual evidence, trying to order them and get to know what really happened in Dallas. Yes, the same DeLillo is doing.Like every tragic and unsolved mystery Kennedy’s assassination became a source of a variety theories trying to get a logical explanation. The picture that DeLillo creates is so unsettling and thought-provoking, and the whole story so coherent and plausible that when we finish our reading, our thinking is and what if that was like that … .

  • Megha
    2018-11-27 15:07

    DeLillo and I are friends now!!We had started off on the wrong foot, but Libra has patched things up. I too share Paul's suspicions about Libra and White Noise having been written by the same person. Had I been handed these two books without the cover, I wouldn't have known those words had flown out of the same figurative pen.Libra is a terrific piece of work. It has a huge cast of characters and a very complex web of events, all handled neatly and elegantly. While DeLillo's characters never really open up to the readers, they can still be haunting and memorable. The writing is very dense and can have a lot of sub-textual meaning. Instead of directly telling the readers what the mood of a scene is or how a character feels, he creates the atmosphere with his words and conveys the feeling quite effectively. Among other things, I liked the way he would give one the sense of slowly or rapidly passing time without saying as much (I have lost my copy, otherwise I could have pulled out a few quotes to show you what I mean. Oh well.) Oswald's mother's neurotic behavior, his wife Marina's feelings of helplessness, dilemmas of many characters are portrayed so well that even minor characters carve a niche for themselves and stay with the reader.Unlike typical thrillers where characters are mere caricatures blindly running after power/money ***, DeLillo's characters are quite real. They do stop long enough to breathe and think. The reader is privy to their objectives, their motivations, their hesitations and dilemmas. Despite knowing how the story is going to end, it is never uninteresting.For me, the most outstanding part of Libra is the realization of the character Lee Harvey Oswald. He is terrifyingly real and complex. He doesn't conform to either hero or anti-hero stencil. I neither like him nor dislike him, but I feel great sympathy for him. His whole life seems to be something of an accident (I mean more accidental than most lives are). It is as if one day he closed his eyes, spun around and then started walking in the direction that he had ended up facing. As a very young teenager, Marxism and communism caught his fancy, without anyone directing him that way. And this very passion acted as his guiding light. What if something else had caught his eye at that stage? He would have been an altogether different person. Though his behavior is far from ideal, he has so many great qualities that could have led him to an exemplary life. He is man of great commitment. He stands by what he believes in and would go to any lengths to support his beliefs. How painstakingly he kept at writing and reading despite his dyslexia is mentioned often in the book. If only....Like Lee's life, the theme of accidental happenings is something DeLillo highlights too. Agent branch trying to solve the confusing maze of the events leading upto JFK assassination finds it impossible to know how much of the history was planned and how much of it was coincidences and destiny. For any scheme to be pulled off, lot of things do need to fall into the right place.I am holding off the fifth star only because political thrillers and conspiracy theories don't hold much interest for me. But Libra really is very impressive.*** I am looking at you American Tabloid. I loved Ellroy's stacatto writing, but it was 600 pages of pretty much the same thing.__________________________________________UPDATE:Libra has been on a long hiatus as I have been occupied with a hundred other things. While I have not been reading this book about JFK's assassination, I did recently happen to drive by the actual location of Kennedy's assassination and the sixth floor museum._____________________________________Second and last chance for DeLillo to impress me. All my GR friends have rated this either 4 or 5 stars (mostly 5). So I am setting my expectations high.If it begins to sound anything like White Noise, it is going straight out of my window.Mr. DeLillo there is a lot of pressure on you. Pull up your socks.

  • Perry
    2018-11-19 16:48

    "There's always more to it. This is what history consists of. It is the sum total of things they aren't telling us."The novel is a tragic, speculative account of the people, places and things leading to the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Delillo uses many of the actual words of Oswald and his mom Marguerite, as well as numerous documented facts surrounding the life and times of Lee Harvey Oswald, so that I had difficulty discerning where the public records stop and the fiction begins. This is likely why Delillo takes pains to remind us that his novel makes "no claim to literal truth" and that he "made no attempt to furnish factual answers to any questions raised by the assassination."It is significant to note that the several films speculating on Lee Harvey Oswald, a conspiracy and the assassination of JFK, such as Oliver Stone's "JFK" from 1991, came after the 1988 publication of Delillo's Libra. Not realizing this, I initially gave the novel only 4 stars when I finished it earlier this year. The more I think about it, the more impressed I am with Delillo's brilliance and imaginative creation.Delillo expertly saves this from being labeled a political novel by his character Nicholas Branch, a researcher who undertakes the nearly impossible task of looking for patterns in a mountain of data and trying distinguish them from mere coincidence. Branch/Delillo concludes that Kennedy's death was the product of a mixture of confederacy and chance, or "a rambling affair that succeeded in short term mainly due to chance." Specifically, Delillo paints Oswald as a lonely and grotesque fringe dweller who becomes the perfect shill for a plot by current and former CIA operatives to take an errant shot at JFK, with the unsuccessful assassination attempt to be blamed on Cuba.To get to the ultimate point, Delillo takes us on a truncated tour through Oswald's life of trying to escape his fate and futilely searching for a place where he could fit in. First and foremost, Lee Harvey spends his life trying to forget that overbearing mother of his, Marguerite, who is both train-wreck compelling and revolting, depicted by Delillo via her unique manner of speech to a judge to whom she provides her list of excuses and complaints for the poverty in which she raised her son and the way he turned out.Then, he is a Marine who, after discharge, defects to Soviet Russia, only to be disappointed in its Westernization and return to the States as a Marxist with a Russian wife. Finally, he sees Cuba as a possible vista.A few things I found uniquely fascinating in this novel. One is the theme of entropy I have seen in other Delillo novels; that is, the fact it's impossible to control people and events pursuant to some type of plan.Second, how Delillo has such an appreciation for the awkward vernacular of professionals, e.g., CIA, and the staccato dialect of the uneducated.Third and most singular is how Delillo shows Oswald as being captivated by media imagery. I cannot help but believe that many of the recent mass murderers also project themselves as being played out in images on living room TV screens. After being shot by Ruby, Oswald imagines how the shot looked on camera. Back in Russia, when he tried to commit suicide just before being expelled, he views his razor slices across his wrist while a violin plays somewhere offstage. Finally, as Lee Harvey fades away, he pans out, watching himself from "a darkish room, someone's den."

  • Sean Wilson
    2018-11-20 12:11

    “Facts are lonely things.”American history is profoundly dark in its timeline. From the slaughtering and near genocidal extermination of the Native Americans to the 9/11 attacks, American history presents itself as an almost constant struggle for survival. History has not been so kind when it comes to America. Inevitably, and understandably, it is so very interesting, and the American people are also equally interesting. Their history is internationally relatable due to the ancestral voyages undertaken, and their subjective stories illuminate the overall objectified view of Uncle Sam. Libra refuses to show America from a political, sociological or a generalised historical standpoint. Instead, in Tolstoyan fashion, DeLillo examines the ‘six seconds that broke the back of the American century’ artistically. Not a single detail is left unnoticed. The scariest part is: What is real? Fact, hypothesis, speculation and fiction are all methodically rolled into one, creating this postmodern odyssey.Libra, an immensely impressive work by American writer Don DeLillo, is one of those books that defines the feeling of America, past, present and future. It’s stylish in its execution, believable in its convictions, thrilling in its story and downright disturbing in its resolution. I remember having these exact feelings whenever I watched the certain episodes of the X-Files— you know, with governmental corruption, conspiracies and paranoia seeping from every frame. Libra does this, utilising words, and every sentence counts, as he ruthlessly dissects America during the Cold War, leaving the sugarcoating and flag-waving patriotism at the back door.Libra, in all its glory, terrifies the reader with its powerful examination of Lee Harvey Oswald and the events leading up to the assassination of JFK. However, as great as it already is, Libra is so much more than being about Lee Harvey Oswald. DeLillo is reflecting back to America of the 50’s and early 60’s, with visually arresting scenes, taking us back to Cold War era as an artistic tool in order to comment on the America of today. Although written in 1988, it still packs a punch that would immediately startle Sonny Liston, with its messages still unsettling us in our post 9/11 world. Don DeLillo isn’t showcasing the past from a politically oriented point of view, as the book is neither conservative or liberal in its underpinnings; instead, it’s a metaphysical shadow, a nameless dread, that looms over these events, seeing it differently from the grounded senses of a human being. It’s a deeply philosophical look, almost epic in scope and as analytical as anything written by Solzhenitsyn. Like I stated earlier, not a single detail is left unnoticed. How DeLillo accomplished this, I will never know.Don DeLillo places Lee Harvey Oswald as the Great Man, the centre of the universe, the Napoleon of the twentieth century, in his quest for remembrance. From the first page, we are instantly dropped into Lee’s world as a young boy, following his upbringing, his discovery of Marxism, political science, Cuba, the military, Japan, Soviet Russia, military espionage and his increasing bitterness of America. DeLillo hurls the facts at breakneck speed and is relentless in his storytelling, blurring fact and fiction so successfully that I refuse to even separate them, fearing I would ruin a work of artistic genius. I cannot describe how I felt when I read the scene with shot down U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers being interrogated by the Russians. This real life incident was recreated perfectly for the book, and sent paranoid shivers up and down my spine. Philip K. Dick was firm in his views on subjective reality. He believed that ‘objective reality is a synthetic product’. His written thoughts are permanently embedded in my mind: Reality is illusory, fragmented, highly subjective and downright confusing. Everything from the curious eyes of a human being has to be questioned, measured and analysed extensively before contributing to the past, and even then, did it necessarily happen that way? Or has it been a collective agreement to preserve objectivity? So as the story progresses, reality is laid bare, the past is tested and actions are questioned from the viewpoint of DeLillo, disguised as a fictional agent assigned to piecing the past together years after the event. Here the reader is bombarded with an array of information, paranoia, conspiracy and startling insights into the nature of being, time, existence, DeLillo waxing the philosophical with his stark brutality. In postmodern fashion, our senses are shellshocked and we have to do nothing but go along with the ride.“He questions everything, including the basic suppositions we make about our world of light and shadow, solid objects and ordinary sounds, and our ability to measure such things, to determine weight, mass and direction, to see things as they are, recall them clearly, be able to say what happened.”Each page has the power to genuinely unsettle the reader. I recall having to close the book many times in order to breath normally again before reopening the pages. The final part is unforgiving and continuously impressive, evoking nostalgia, invoking fear, advocating a sort of coherent truth. Its tension is utterly superb. The paranoia of the Cold War-world will never fail to disturb. Don’t let that put you off though, as Libra is one of the most powerful statements of America ever written.“The truth of the world is exhausting…”

  • Sentimental Surrealist
    2018-12-11 13:48

    This fucking book, man, it just leaves me at a complete loss for words. I've heard people discredit the terrific work DeLillo did to make Oswald a compelling and complex character - maybe DeLillo's most compelling and most complex character - because Don was working with a real person and therefore had plenty of raw material to go with, but I insist that it takes just as much talent to sculpt what is known of Oswald (his upbringing, his politics, his time in the war) into a real and weirdly relatable anti-hero. DeLillo pulls him out of the realm of history and makes a goddamn person out of him, and all it takes is a maybe-implausible - but certainly, you cannot deny, all sorts of fun to read about - conspiracy to do so. DeLillo uses that conspiracy as a jumping-off point for an in-depth study of Oswald's motivations; his determination to make a mark on history is pulled against by the plot he finds himself wrapped up in, a plot that puts Oswald on strings and pretty much leaves the strings visible. This is what they talk about when they say "character-driven writing."So what does that make Libra? Proof that DeLillo can do character and write in a more traditional mode? Well, it's still DeLillo, so that's not quite the case. Libra may be a character-driven novel, but it's also a thriller, and a thriller in the DeLillo mode, which means he spoofs some thriller conventions (notably the sudden escalations and ridiculously tangled webs of players vs. players), affirm others (the fast pace, the violence, the political undertones), and stay in the DeLillo-space for still others (the paranoia and conspiracies). DeLillo's a smart guy, so it's hard to take this as some YouTube nutjob yelling his head off about the Grassy Knoll and the holes in the Warren Commission, and yet it's equally hard for me to fully buy into DeLillo's disclaimer at the beginning that insists Libra is intended to be pure speculation and isn't supposed to provide any answers. Which I'm sure is the idea, and could even be a little joke on DeLillo's part, since I'm sure he's aware that he's perceived as existing on the brilliant/crazy faultline by his fans and his detractors alike, but it's hard for me to know what to make of this novel, if it was intended as a straight-but-sophisticated historical thriller (I feel Running Dog is more obviously parody, but this isn't Running Dog), even an attempt to legitimatize the genre, or an Eco-style parody of our fascination with the currents of history. It's also hard for me to know if DeLillo honestly believes what he puts out here. I know Kennedy had his enemies and am not naive enough to believe that politicians don't throw other politicians under the bus on the daily, and yet I wonder if this is the ravings of an exceptionally talented lunatic. I know it's an in-depth analysis of the currents of history centered around a fascinating and often demonized figure, but it could also be completely crazy. Or dead the fuck on. Either way, DeLillo's prose is the best it's ever been, the portrayal of Oswald is masterful, and the montage-style climax is out of this world good. Due for a reread.

  • Lee
    2018-12-09 14:15

    This one took about a month to read so I should respect that time turning its pages and write a few commemorative words. All I can really say is that on every page the writing reeks of literature, but rarely is it literary. What I mean is that DeLillo's sentences always seem to have an eye on a subtextual prize, that is, they always seem like an updated, abstract response to that question posed long ago by some cavedweller about the meaning of life, as opposed to turns of phrase for the sake of well-crafted whateverness. Any given paragraph is obviously DeLillo. His style is absolutely particularly his, but also it's readable and clear, with lyrical potential, too, but never romantic, or sensory solely for the sake of activating the reader's senses. All characters are part of the whole (society, history, the universe), and all characters have been brought to life solely to speak DeLillo's words. This would annoy if DeLillo had nothing to say, but he has some serious things to say, and so his characters say them, then conspire to kill the president. A particular brand of American anxiety is represented here. This is a difficult review to write. What I should just say is that several times while reading this while walking to work I would laugh out loud at awesome language or a turn or development or insight (rarely at something funny, though humor exists if not necessarily abounds) and sometimes I'd even say out loud that this dude is a freakin' great writer. I should be better able to articulate why I'd say this aloud while walking/reading, but I think it has to do with his authority, ambition, dry-eyed humanity, intelligence/wisdom, scope/range, humor, boldness, the beautifully honed/hefty sentences of course, and also something to do with the structure, how scenes emerge and dissolve ("boldly" as Ethan says) without much helpful orientation from the author, and it all seems held together loosely, artfully, in a way that seems like it wants to very carefully, very gently create in the reader a state similar to what's being experienced by the characters? Something like that? It's real good. Maybe his masterpiece, even more so than "Underworld"? -- it definitely feels longer (maybe 'cause it's denser?) and goes slower than "Underworld" . . . Also, plot-wise, the whole time you know how this one ends, but such knowledge is hardly an annoyance, the opposite in fact, same as with re-reading Hamlet etc.

  • Marco Tamborrino
    2018-11-18 18:56

    - Quando è il tuo compleanno?- Il diciotto ottobre, - rispose Lee.- Libra. La Bilancia.- Sì, la Bilancia, - disse Ferrie- L'Equilibrio, - disse Shaw.Quelli della bilancia. Alcuni sono positivi, padroni di sé, equilibrati, con la testa a posto, saggi e rispettati da tutti. Altri invece sono negativi, cioè piuttosto instabili, impulsivi. Tanto, ma tanto, ma tanto influenzabili. Propensi a spiccare il salto pericoloso. In entrambi i casi, la chiave è l'equilibrio.A volte finisci dei libri e non è che ti senti privato di un amico. Ti senti privato di un mondo intero. Finisci dei libri e ti chiedi cosa succede là fuori, perché mai tu sei dentro casa a leggere. Ti portano via un universo. Le ultime pagine. Le lacrime che colano sull'inchiostro. E le domande, le migliaia di domande prima dell'ultima riga. Ti hanno derubato, quando finisci dei libri. Così io mi sono sentito: come se mi avessero tolto ogni certezza. Le certezze derivate da un mese di lettura, da un mese di lettura sulla vita di Lee Harvey Oswald. Ventiquattro anni. Una vita giovane, eppure una vita immensa. Adesso ho bisogno di aria. Ho finito un libro che è poesia. Quando finisci un libro che è poesia è normale che ti venga voglia di uscire a respirare un po' d'aria fresca. È il disfacimento interiore delle proprie convinzioni. Le parole che graffiano, stridono, si artigliano ai tuoi vestiti, ti si accalcano addosso. Non puoi farci niente. Sono gelide e secche, sono lì per fare del male.Ma che cos'è Libra?Io penso che Libra sia Lee Harvey Oswald, e che Lee Harvey Oswald non possa essere altro che Libra. Il romanzo stesso. Tutti i dettagli della sua vita. L'infanzia, la giovinezza, l'amore. L'Unione Sovietica, l'odio per il sistema capitalista. Lee Harvey Oswald è conosciuto dalla maggior parte di noi semplicemente come l'assassino del trentacinquesimo Presidente degli Stati Uniti d'America, John Fiztgerald Kennedy. Ci fermiamo qui e lo odiamo. Pensare a un complotto sarebbe troppo complesso. Un complotto implica centinaia di piste da seguire, centinaia di dati su centinaia di personaggi, tutti coloro che sono entrati in contatto con Lee Harvey Oswald. Perché alla fine gira tutto intorno a lui. Tutto riporta a lui. Sono un capro espiatorio, disse prima di venire ucciso da Jack Ruby."C'è abbastanza mistero nei fatti così come li conosciamo, abbastanza complotto, coincidenza, questioni irrisolte, vicoli ciechi, molteplicità di interpretazioni. Non c'è bisogno, pensa, di inventare la grande macchinazione magistrale, la congiura che si ramifica impeccabilmente in dieci direzioni diverse."Non ce n'è bisogno, già. Ma alla fine non si può far altro. Fu veramente Oswald a uccidere il presidente. Era l'unico a sparare, quel giorno? Ventidue novembre millenovecentosessantatre. Come mai tutte le persone che entrarono in contatto con lui negli ultimi mesi della sua vita morirono pochi anni dopo? De Lillo intreccia ai fatti reali sulla vita di Oswald gli eventi fittizi che darebbero vita a un grande complotto per assassinare il presidente e far pensare che Oswald fosse stato inviato da Cuba, e alimentare quindi una nuova invasione dell'isola dopo il fallimento della Baia dei Porci. Ancora oggi, dopo tre inchieste (una delle quali è la famosa e abnorme Commissione Warren), non si è riusciti a dimostrare che si trattasse di un complotto. E così hanno deciso che è stato lui e basta. Lee Harvey Oswald ha ucciso il presidente. Da solo. Ma noi non leggiamo Libra per sapere questo. Questo lo sappiamo già. Noi leggiamo Libra per sapere se la vita di L. H. Oswald era una vita come tante oppure una vita speciale. E scopriamo, quasi con sorpresa, che era entrambe le cose. Che tutte le nostre vite soneo entrambe le cose. Speciali e normali. Che l'amore è speciale e normale. Che avere una figlia, diventare padre, è insieme una cosa meravigliosa, inaspettata e incredibile, tanto quanto una cosa quotidiana e noiosa.Chi è Lee Harvey Oswald?"L'assistente sociale scrisse: «Le risposte alle domande rivelano che il ragazzo sente fra sé e le altre persone un velo che lo rende irraggiungibile, ma preferisce che il velo resti intatto»."Lee H. Oswald è un ragazzino maltrattato dai compagni di scuola che vive da solo con la madre. Si spostano in continuazione. A dieci anni ha già cambiato sei scuole. Cresce leggendo il manuale dei marines di suo fratello Robert, già arruolato. Poi inizia a leggere letteratura marxista. Si arruola a 18 anni. Nell'esercito gli capita di sbagliare, e viene spedito nel carcere di rigore ad Atsugi, Giappone. Conosce il sistema della prigione americana. Poi, passando per la Finlandia, va in Unione Sovietica. Si innamora di Marina, la sposa, e quando si accorge che il comunismo è tutto tranne quello che pensava, torna in Amerca. Qui viene preso di mira dai servizi segreti americani, ex agenti della CIA che tramano per uccidere il presidente e far partire un'invasione di Cuba. Viene preso di mira perché ha tutte le caratteristiche del personaggio di cui questi congiurati hanno bisogno. È l'uomo perfetto."L'obiettivo principale è che Kennedy muoia.Il secondo obiettivo è che muoia Oswald."Secondo la classica ricostruzione dei fatti, quella che - più o meno - tutti conosciamo, Lee Harvey Oswald sparò tre proiettili in meno di sei secondi. Il primo ferì lievemente il presidente sotto il mento. Il secondo mancò il bersaglio. Il terzo aprì un buco nella testa di JFK. In Libra, quando Oswald sta mirando per sparare il terzo proiettile, nel mirino del suo fucile vede la testa del presidente esplodere, ma non per il suo colpo. Sono un capro espiatorio, disse. E noi, ancora oggi, non sappiamo quale sia la verità.Ma Lee Harvey Oswald era anche il ragazzo che ha saputo amare con tutto se stesso come qualsiasi essere umano. Il ragazzo che passava le notti a fissare la figlia, tanto l'amava. Tornato in America si mise a picchiare Marina, è vero, ma paradossalmente non smise mai di amarla."Il saluto con cui le rispondeva era infantile, un agitar di mano, un piacere profondo e toccante. Sembrava dirle, dalla sua barchetta: - Guardaci, siamo un miracolo, così autentico e sicuro."Quali sono i personaggi che ruotano attorno all'universo di Libra, al mondo di Lee Harvey Oswald?Ce ne sono tanti. Ogni attentatore ha la sua storia, la sua famiglia, i suoi sentimenti. Ogni membro dell'operazione volta ad assassinare Kennedy richiede pagine e pagine di approfondimento. Niente è messo lì a caso. il più rilevante è forse David Ferrie (pilota della marina), omosessuale convinto di avere il cancro."- Dave, tu in cosa credi?- In tutto. Specialmente nella mia morte.- La desideri?- La sento. Io sono la pubblicità vivente del cancro.- Ma ne parli così volentieri.- Perché, avrei altra scelta?"Poi c'è Marguerite Oswald, la madre di Lee. Nei suoi capitoli sembra sempre parlare a un giudice in un'aula di tribunale. Dice che non può spiegare la vita di suo figlio con una semplice deposizione. Deve raccontarla tutta. E i toni con cui racconta sono drammatici, forti, impregnati di un opprimente senso di perdita allo stesso tempo umano e storico. E dopo Marguerite c'è Marina. Marina e il suo amore sincero per Lee, convinta che le cicatrici che lei e il ragazzo portano sulle braccia siano un segno del destino, un segno che li ha fatti incontrare e li farà stare insieme. Ma quando lui comincia a picchiarla, lei inizia a chiedersi se l'ami veramente, pur rimanendo invariato il suo amore per lui.A Marguerite e Marina si aggiunge una carrellata di personaggi più o meno importanti. Ma ognuno di loro, a modo suo, è tragico e malinconico. Ognuno si porta dietro una tristezza infinita, e il lettore sa perfettamente che tutto dovrà culminare con la morte del presidente. Perché è l'anima del complotti, terminare con una morte.Win Everett, ideatore dell'attentato, a tal proposito formulerà questo pensiero:"Le trame possiedono una logica. C'è una tendenza, nelle trame, a evolvere in direzione della morte. Lui era convinto che l'idea della morte fosse insita nella natura di ogni trama. Nelle trame di narrativa come in quelle di uomini armati. Più la trama di un racconto è fitta, più è probabile che approdi alla morte. La trama di un romanzo, credeva, è il nostro modo di localizzare la forza della morte fuori dal libro, di esorcizzarla, di contenerla."Qual è il senso di Libra?Forse DeLillo non aveva un secondo fine. Forse lo scrittore americano voleva solo scrivere un bel romanzo sulla questione documentandosi molto. Ma io credo che abbia voluto dare anche un segnale. Che la vita di ogni essere umano non è semplice. Non si può giudicare da un gesto. Non si può rinchiudere in un istante di tempo e lasciarla lì. Kennedy era un simbolo prima ancora che un uomo. E Lee Harvey Oswald o coloro che sono rimasti nell'ombra l'hanno distrutto. Ma perché? Non sono umani anche loro? Non sono simboli anche loro? Simboli di un America, di un sistema sbagliato?

  • Michael
    2018-12-08 11:08

    "Facts all come with points of view." --Talking HeadsI became reasonably convinced that Libra is Don DeLillo's masterpiece about halfway through. After slogging through the first quarter of the novel -- you're introduced to dozens of characters, and they're all revealed to you in that customarily opaque way that any reader of DeLillo will instantly recognize, and the dialogue only takes you so far because DeLillo characters don't talk to each other so much as around each other, and it takes a while to get on solid footing, except you never really get on solid footing with DeLillo, because he forces you to slow down, he writes prose that you can't glide over, and even when you have a handle on what's going on, he throws in a line that comes seemingly from nowhere but feels absolutely essential to your understanding of the novel, so you have little choice but to re-read the page, and so skimming is not an option, and even after all that close reading you STILL aren't given clear portraits of his characters, especially THESE characters, these men who live in the shadows, ruminating, plotting, conspiring, and instead you get to know them only through the sheer accretion of detail, which is all a roundabout way of saying that you have to stick with it because DeLillo assumes you're a patient and knowledgeable reader, and everyone knows what singular event this complicated engine with all its moving parts is chugging toward -- it all suddenly clicked into high gear.I've been an admirer of DeLillo's for a while, but never before have I been sucked into his world so completely as I did while reading Libra. More focused than the sprawling Underworld (though it does contain that breathtaking prologue) and less zany than White Noise (indeed, this book is as airtight and humorless as they come), this fictionalized account of the Kennedy assassination is a taut, frighteningly plausible re-imagining of the event that "broke the back of the American century." And it seems to me that it's the perfect representation of everything DeLillo is about.One such DeLillo hallmark on display is that sense of inexorability and dread hanging over every page. The plot to kill Kennedy may have started with a handful of disgruntled agents choosing to go off the reservation, but by November 22, 1963, the event seems almost preordained. And in DeLillo's version of Oswald, a treatment so sympathetic it led George Will to call it "an act of bad citizenship," you have a terrifically complex character, someone who believed he existed to shape history, but in truth, was someone shaped entirely BY history. Consider how after the assassination, Lee Oswald instantly and irreversibly becomes Lee Harvey Oswald, a name change so jarring that his mother no longer recognizes him as her son, but as a media creation forced into action by outside, alien forces.For a while I played the game that I'm sure most readers played (especially now that it's so easy to do), firing up the Internet and comparing what's real versus what DeLillo conjured up. But at some point I stopped, because it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter whether Win Everett and Larry Parmenter are less real than David Ferrie, or if Lee Oswald really said and thought those things while in Minsk, or if Jack Ruby really was commissioned by the Mafia to take Oswald out. To read this book and assume you've read what DeLillo believes happened is short-selling the novel. The lasting image for me is of DeLillo's stand-in Nicholas Branch, the semi-retired CIA agent being asked to write the secret history of the assassination, alone in his study with mountains upon mountains of material, all the minutiae and trivia and arcana given to him by some unknown, god-like Curator. There is no making sense of all that documentation, but because it is documented, because we have Oswald's pubic hair and Jack Ruby's mother's dental records, and every single frame of the Zapruder film noted and memorized, it assumes there should be sense to make, that if you crawl deep enough into the rabbit hole you will emerge with a coherent narrative. And the joke is that of course you won't. Libra may come off as deadly serious, but it sells that dark joke for all it's worth.

  • Ned
    2018-11-20 13:51

    There are a number of reasons I chose this one to occupy a couple of weeks of reading time in my life. First, I wanted an introduction to DeLillo since I understand he can be difficult to read, yet I wanted to be entertained. The subject matter is near and dear to my heart, as the Kennedy assassination spawned perhaps the greatest assortment of conspiracy theories in our nation’s history. Most of the story occurred during the period of history in which I was born (1960) and marks and colors a substantial portion of the collective history which informed my upbringing. My own father was fascinated with the event, being unafraid to ask hard questions in Dallas when vacationing there. My daughter lives in Dallas now and on a cold March day we toured the book depository (I was astonished at the proximity of the street from the 6th floor, it felt very probable that this could have happened). Lastly, I remember purchasing this book for my father when it came out back in 1988, back when I was reading book reviews voraciously – I don’t think he ever read it and I’m guessing the first edition hardback is gathering dust somewhere (and I have asked him now to find / read it – I intend to retrieve that original for my own collection!).I did not debate with myself much in giving this top rating because, in total, it is highly entertaining and artfully arranged and written. Like the event itself, it is a swirl of characters and backstory. It shouldn’t surprise me, but somehow it often does, that the heart of man never changes. Even when I was a babe, a time I want to think when people were more generous or normal, they were just as venal, petty, hateful, weak-willed and conniving as they are today. It helped that I knew the plot, and recognized the name of characters. Otherwise the tale would have seemed preposterous and I would have accused the author of excessive indulgence in fantasy. The Oswald character is rendered in all his contradictory and confused state of mind, dyslectic yet intelligent, moving from one minor failure to another, seeking a grand stage. I had forgotten he had attempted to assassinate a public figure before JFK. This novel captured the fervor and deep fear of communism, from Russia to China to Cuba. The motivations made sense of the conspirators, anger at the first catholic president for not supporting the invasion of Cuba leading to the Bay of Pigs fiasco. The massive CIA and other agency apparatus run amuck, disgruntled and powerful shadowy agents concocting plots that went awry yet by coincidence came together. DeLillo must have delighted when he realized the truth of the history is best told in novel form, since reality (alas) will never be known by mankind. In a way this event strikes at the heart of all historical accounts in that the particular events cannot be known to perfection. Reality is stranger than fiction, and what a startling plot where an idea to create a failed assassination plot spirals out of control and leads to a cavalcade of events ultimately leading to the violent death of the most flamboyantly powerful man in the world (sealing his fate as a most cherished man and what some consider, certainly falsely, the end of innocence for its time). The sordid backdrop of New Orleans hardliners and peripherals, aka Jack Ruby, was brilliantly told.DeLillo did some strange things with first and third person, switching within the same paragraph. That was an intentional device, I’m sure, but to what effect I can’t understand. All I know is the entire concoction worked beautifully and this was a page turner for me. The characters, even when un-knowable, are deep and real and carefully nuanced. I’ll give you one little snippet to show you the talent of this writer (p. 295), when an unemployed ex-agent was enjoying being back in the game, sitting in the swamps of Florida with other like-minded ex-warriors, training for some yet to be identified mission:“The wind was battering the shack. They talked for hours, telling funny and bloody stories. Wayne felt sweet and light as Jesus on a moonbeam.”

  • Roberto
    2018-12-12 14:13

    Impatto imminenteUna boccia su un tavolo da biliardo impatta su un'altra. Proviene da un punto relativamente remoto. L'impatto non è altro che l'evoluzione di un percorso partito tempo prima, effetto sulla stecca, deviazioni di sponde, abilità e strategia del giocatore, posizione iniziale delle bocce. L'impatto che si osserva è l'epilogo.Come ci si è arrivati, a quell'impatto?Questa è la domanda che si è fatto DeLillo con questo intrigante libro.Il tempo è il 22 novembre del 1963. Il luogo è Dallas, sulla decappottabile presidenziale. L'impatto è tra la testa del presidente John Fitzgerald Kennedy e un proiettile sparato da un fucile di precisione.Chi ha sparato? Lee Oswald, dicono le indagini. Forse.Aiutato da qualcuno? Forse.Come ci è arrivato lì, un uomo come Lee Oswald? Come è arrivato a imbracciare un fucile e a sparare? E' stato un suo percorso personale? O ci è stato portato? C'è chi l'ha selezionato per le sue inclinazioni? O chi ha tramato nell'ombra per plasmare la sua mente e spingerlo in questa direzione senza possibilità di ritorno? Quest'uomo è stato abilmente manovrato magari affascinandolo con l'idea di essere ricordato nei libri di scuola come l'uomo che uccise il presidente degli Stati Uniti d'America?De Lillo si fa la domanda. E in questo bellissimo libro parte da lontano e ipotizza ragioni, sviluppo e svolgimento dell'azione, partendo dal punto di vista proprio di Oswald, uomo non mentalmente stabile, solitario, abbastanza debole, incline alla violenza, spinto da ideali (chiederà asilo in Russia) nemmeno troppo chiari per lui.Chi è Oswald? Un assassino, un sovversivo, un pazzo, un poveraccio in balia degli eventi, un burattino manovrato? O una vittima?Il libro inizia molto prima dello sparo di Dallas e termina subito dopo. Non è stato per me immediato entrare nella trama, perché molti dei personaggi non sono presentati e non sapendo che ruolo abbiano poi nella vicenda è necessario darci dentro con Google. Ma dopo poche pagine il libro inizia a volare alto e diviene estremamente interessante (uno dei migliori libri di Delillo letti fin'ora).Delillo si è documentato meticolosamente per scrivere il libro e dare alla luce la sua visione dei fatti. Complotto? Coincidenze? Chissà, forse nessuno potrà ormai dirci com'è andata davvero. Anche se non nego di far fatica a immaginare che un apparato, la CIA, comandato dal Presidente possa arrivare a (far) uccidere il Presidente stesso.Mi sono domandato spesso, durante la lettura, quanto JFK debba la sua notorietà a ciò che ha fatto come Presidente degli Stati Uniti d'America e quanto invece alle sue vicende private (donne...) e alla sua morte violenta, su cui, leggevo, sono stati scritti circa 40000 (quarantamila!) libri.Un gran bel libro comunque questo di Delillo. Interessante per la prospettiva assolutamente innovativa e per la scrittura, veramente bella e coinvolgente.

  • João Carlos
    2018-12-19 13:59

    John F. Kennedy - assassinato - 22 de Novembro de 1963 - DallasDon DeLillo (n. 1936) escreve um romance sobre a "história" do assassinato de John F. Kennedy – um estudo sobre os homens que moldaram a história, num relato sobre os acontecimentos trágicos que ocorreram em Dallas, na manhã de 22 de Novembro de 1963. Durante três anos DeLillo investiga e analisa inúmeros documentos – com destaque para o Relatório da Comissão Warren, processos judiciais, artigos de jornais e revistas – escrevendo um romance, num registo que oscila entre a realidade e a ficção, as diferentes teorias da conspiração, desvendando e projectando personagens dominadas por sentimentos e comportamentos ambíguos. Uma escrita complexa e intimista sobre as forças e os detalhes que criaram as motivações para a concretização de um acto radical por parte de Lee Harvey Oswald – tornando-se num “peão” das várias teorias da conspiração sobre o assassinato de Presidente dos Estados Unidos da América. “As conspirações são portadoras de uma lógica própria. Há nas conspirações a tendência para se aproximarem da morte. Ele acreditava que a ideia da morte faz parte integrante da natureza de todas as conspirações. Neste aspecto, uma conspiração de homens armados assemelhava-se a um enredo narrativo. Quanto mais conciso o enredo de uma história, mais provável é que culmine na morte." (Pág. 247)Lee Harvey Oswald (1939 - 1963)Oswald é um perdedor, solitário e instável, com um comportamento errático e patético; uma daquelas pessoas que se agarram loucamente ao significado de cada coincidência, por mais insignificante que ela seja. “Lee Harvey Oswald estava acordado na sua cela. Começava a ocorrer-lhe que encontrara a obra da sua vida. Depois do crime vem a reconstrução. Ele terá de analisar os motivos, terá que explorar toda a questão, aliás riquíssima, da verdade e da culpa. Será tempo de reflectir, de virar aquele acontecimento do avesso no seu espírito. Eis ali um crime que, manifestamente, gera matéria para uma interpretação profunda." (Pág. 472) “Libra” – título inspirado no signo astrológico (Balança) de Oswald - é um excelente livro de ficção escrito a partir de material e informação factual sobre um dos acontecimentos mais trágicos da História Mundial - o assassinato de John F. Kennedy. Jack Ruby (Jacob Rubenstein) assassina Lee Harvey Oswald a 24 de Novembro de 1963

  • Paolo
    2018-12-10 15:04

    Libro definitivo sulla madre di tutti i complotti e di come Mafia/Cia/FBI/Anticastristi portino quasi per sbaglio un ragazzo di ventitre anni che non aveva il motivo, le capacità e nemmeno la volontà, ad uccidere Kennedy.Impareggiabile DeLillo fa di Oswald un Forrest Gump in negativo che attraversa l'universo - America, detrito fra i detriti.Meraviglioso poi lo Stabat materfinale.

  • Marc
    2018-11-26 16:58

    Somewhere along the line I got this notion in my head that DeLillo wasn't for me. I have no idea how that got lodged in my head, but it could not be more wrong. This is only my second of his works (after being quite delighted with White Noise), but between his subject matter (the American zeitgeist) and his writing style (dark, funny, smart, biting, while somehow being lyrical), I think I might be hooked. Some of his passages are simply enjoyable on their own:The faintly musty smell, the coolness of the small room, the familiar labels on jars and cans made him feel like an ancient and tired child, someone allowed to relive the simplest, the deepest times, moments that left a scar on the heart---not an evidence of some detailed pain but only of time itself, systemic, heavy with loss. In Libra he tells the tale of how Lee Harvey Oswald came to shoot JFK in 1963. It's told in the type of "jump cut" style more common to film. Within chapters, DeLillo shifts to different characters/locations or moves forward/backward in time, adding to what is an overwhelming, disorienting feeling of being caught up in forces that even those supposedly pulling the international strings don't fully comprehend nor control. His is not so much a theory of what actually happened as a tale with closure served up as a kind of dressing to cover this historical wound.----------------------------------------------------WORDS I LEARNED WHILE READING THIS BOOKprelapsarian | panatela | shvartzer

  • AC
    2018-12-09 12:56

    Spoilers -- kind of....This is a really great book -- for most of it, I really loved this -- partially because I'm an assassination buff, but also because there's a taut intelligence and poetry in much of the writing, and also (I thought, at least) some really sublime characterization and lots of Plot MoMo. The treatment of David Ferrie -- for example when he meets with Carmine .... just great writing... This is my first DeLillo - and I know a lot of people here think he's way overrated -- so I went in assuming he was no good -- in other words, I went in with anti-hype. And found him to be a moving, sensitive, very mortal writer -- writing about very moving and mortal things.That said -- there were all through certain very subtle hints of weakness - very subtle -- DeL. sometimes spells things out for the reader that shouldn't have -- he should trust more in the reader's own insights... and then the ending, in my opinion, just failed -- for the very simple reason that a lot of time was spent rehearsing events that we've all seen a thousand times on video. He should have stopped 50 pages earlier...That said -- I enjoyed this a lot...

  • Carla
    2018-12-18 18:50

    “Libra” é uma obra de ficção que ensaia uma teoria sobre o assassinato do Presidente Kennedy e que tenta, de forma incansável, responder à pergunta – Quem era Lee Harvey Oswald? Encontramos, portanto, esta dupla vertente narrativa ao logo de um texto fragmentário por opção e pejado de vozes, algumas mais interessantes do que outras, sendo que todas convergem rumo à figura de Lee Harvey Oswald. “Libra” parece ser ainda uma tentativa para contrariar as inúmeras incoerências do Relatório da Comissão Warren, sobretudo sobre Oswald, apresentando ao leitor um homem com aparentes convicções férreas mas que perante a contrariedade se encolhe e busca um novo objectivo menos incómodo. O inverno russo era doloroso, por isso, porque não apoiar a solarenga Cuba? DeLillo segue ainda o rasto das coincidências na vida de Oswald, coincidências que ele próprio encarava como uma espécie de sinal do destino, uma espécie de consentimento às ações que empreenderia. Oswald, a balança desequilibrada, facilmente influenciável mas sensível à causa mais nobre: a sua pessoa. Ao longo da leitura e à medida que iam sendo relatadas situações que de facto ocorreram, consultei fotos, vídeos e outros documentos sobre o caso. Uma entrevista de Oswald à rádio, a foto que Marina lhe tira com a arma no quintal dos Paine, as fotos de Oswald Marine com um ar apatetado, as fotos de Oswald na Polícia de Dallas após o atentado, as imagens de Jack Ruby a alvejar Lee Harvey Oswald dois dias depois da morte de Kennedy, as imagens do funeral do pária, a lápide com o seu nome roubada em 1967. Observo, leio, reflicto e permanece a dúvida: Quem era este homem? Alguém sempre desfavorecido que pretendeu, uma vez na vida, destacar-se? Elevar o nome Oswald a uma dimensão superior a qualquer ideal? Ou um joguete nas mãos dos poderosos, vítima de algo que não conseguia alcançar?Lee Harvey Oswald, o rato de biblioteca que não conseguia escrever duas frases sem dar um erro ortográfico, é até hoje um enigma não resolvido. Ele conseguiu fixar-se na História como um mistério superior ao que envolve a morte de Kennedy.

  • kaelan
    2018-11-24 11:07

    Preamble.A few days after finishing Libra, I went out for drinks with a good friend/DeLillo-aficionado and naturally a heated discussion ensued. What follows is largely the result of this conversation.Review.In her (or his) first-ever interview, the artist generally known as "Elena Ferrante" attempted to articulate the literary relationship between truth and style:Literary truth is not the truth of the biographer or the reports, it's not a police report or a sentence handed down by a court. It's not even the plausibility of a well-constructed narrative. Literary truth is entirely a matter of wording and is directly proportional to the energy that one is able to impress on the sentence.In this brief paragraph, Ferrante perfectly encapsulates the issue I took with Libra. Not that I in any way wish to question Don DeLillo's acumen as a writer. Far from it. And Libra—the American author's elaborate and painstakingly researched speculative account of the Kennedy assassination—must have been quite the bitch to write......and yet......and yet I found myself struggling to be drawn in by the narrative, struggling to feel engaged. Part of the reason is probably subjective; as my DeLillophile friend pointed out to me, I generally prefer poetry and philosophy to fiction. Yet I doubt this is the whole story. Sure, some books simply don't resonate with you. But I believe that the failure of Libra was—at least in part—objective in nature. Here's why:(1) It reads kind of like a synopsis.I get it; DeLillo digs the plain prose-style. But with several exceptions (such as the somewhat overwrought soliloquies of Ms. Marguerite Oswald), Libra takes things a little too far. I mean, Mr. D. will often steer clear of figurative language for pages at a time. No similes, no metaphors. (Not even dead ones.) When compounded with his lengthly, even sentences and sober syntax, the result isn't too dissimilar from a dry academic history—but without the factual rigour.(2) At least some readers of this book aren't American.As I was nearing the end of the book, I decided to watch a youtube video of Lee (Harvey) Oswald's death. Almost immediately, the grey and amorphous world of Libra sprung into vivid life. If DeLillo wrote the novel for a primarily American audience—which I suspect was the case—he would've been able to count upon a certain set of common beliefs and experiences w/r/t his readers. In other words, he could effectively point to a preexisting world, as opposed to having to create one from scratch. The downside: for those approaching his book from the "outside," there'll always be something missing...

  • Vit Babenco
    2018-12-11 10:53

    Dead president's corpse in the driver's car. The engine runs on glue and tar…“Let’s devote our lives to understanding this moment, separating the elements of each crowded second. We will build theories that gleam like jade idols, intriguing systems of assumption, four-faced, graceful. We will follow the bullet trajectories backwards to the lives that occupy the shadows, actual men who moan in their dreams.”There is a system and there are those who serve it. There are cats and there are cat’s paws. “There is a world inside the world.” Movers and shakers live among us but they abide in the invisible world of their own.

  • Grazia
    2018-11-22 16:51

    "Un giorno qualche dritto avrebbe inventato una religione basata sulla coincidenza" Recentemente vedo Jackie di Pablo Larrain. Ci trascino mia figlia, scelta inopportuna. Lascio a casa la Madre, scelta parimenti inopportuna. La figlia mi infama perché si è rotta i maroni a più infinito, la Madre mi rompe i maroni perché dovevo portarci lei. Insomma, come fai sbagli.Comunque. Il film è molto diverso dalle aspettative che nutrivo su esso, pensavo che ci fosse più Storia. Mentre risulta essere tutt'altro che polpettone, molto intimista. Tutto centrato su Jackie, personaggio quanto mai ambiguo. Conoscevo poco della storia del delitto Kennedy e da questa visione non sono stata aiutata. Ma a me, che son fatta strana, non solo non ha annoiato, ma addirittura mi ha messo tanta curiosità.Finita la visione, torno a casa e googolo. Intrippata.Finito Perutz, ho idee confuse su quella che potrebbe essere la mia prossima lettura. Casualmente, sfogliando una lista di libri imprescindibili, con titoli curiosi, noto Libra. Delitto Kennedy. De Lillo. Ce la farò? So cosa vuol dire affrontare De Lillo, so che quell'uomo sembra sia pagato per non rendere la vita facile al lettore. Però l'argomento mi intriga. Ho adorato Underworld. Mi lancio.De Lillo, nelle sembianze del curatore Branch che deve ricostruire i fatti per l'Effebi, si chiude nella sua stanzetta per 3 anni. E col romanzo, prova a fare una ricostruzione di ciò che accadde. Raccontando la storia non dei Kennedy ma di Oswald, uomo incolpato della morte di JFK. È un libro non semplice (ci mancherebbe), le prime cento pagine si sviluppano senza presentazioni. Personaggi sempre nuovi che compaiono e che dire scarsamente presentati, sarebbe non solo improprio ma un facile eufemismo. E li si va di Google. Non c'è verso. O bisogna conoscere l'argomento.Ma. Ad un certo punto, la storia prende. Eccome se prende. E l'ordito immaginato da De Lillo appare al lettore una possibilità non solo ammissibile ma proprio verosimile. I fatti, le persone, che si stringono intorno ad un uomo, che appare essere suo malgrado, la persona giusta per interpretare una parte. E tutto si mette sulla sua strada affinché il 22/11/63 lui imbracci un fucile e spari tre colpi. Le trame hanno la curiosa tendenza di convergere sempre verso la morte."La prova che Lee Oswald corrisponde alla sagoma di cartone che hanno ritagliato fin qui. Tu sei un capriccio della storia. Sei una coincidenza. Loro architettano un piano e tu ci rientri alla perfezione. A un certo punto ti perdono, e rieccoti qui. C’è un disegno negli avvenimenti."Coincidenze. Parola che ricorre in Libra per ben 21 volte."Branch è diventato sospettoso nei confronti di queste coincidenze da quattro soldi. Comincia a credere che qualcuno tenti di deviarlo verso la superstizione. Lui vuole che una cosa sia quello che è. Non può, un uomo, morire senza scatenare la solita, rituale, ricerca di collegamenti e disegni?"Oswald. Un uomo. Una nota stonata. Jack Ruby, uccisore di Oswald, altro uomo, altra nota stonata."Una stonatura nell’aria."Intro. Primo pezzo della colonna sonora di Jackie: tema su nota stonata.[Tra l'altro colonna sonora, per me, bellissima]Le sinfonie si costruiscono anche su note stonate. E Oswald Ruby, se l'idea del complotto è sostenibile, hanno suonato nella stessa orchestra.Coincidenze. Che portano a scoprire che esiste pure un De Lillo ironico."La coincidenza è una scienza in attesa di venire scoperta".Molto interessante la rappresentazione dello stesso fatto da due punti di vista non solo diversi, ma diametralmente opposti.

  • sologdin
    2018-11-29 12:50

    Nutshell: soporific account of JFK assassination, intermixed with bildungsroman of assassin, with implied subtitle The Sorrows of Young Lee Harvey.Narrative is bifurcated into alternating sections. First set are designated by locus: New Orleans, Moscow, Dallas—these follow Oswald. Second set are designated by tempus: 20 May, 25 September, 22 November—these follow CIA losers, anti-castroites, other unsavories.Text ties tempus and locus together explicitly in Oswald: “from early childhood he liked histories and maps” (10). First locus chapter advises that Oswald’s truancy problems does not make him a “criminal who is put away for study. They have made my boy a matter on the calendar” (11)—which advises us not to take the tempus chapters too seriously. Conversely, first tempus chapter advises that one character, after all is said and done, will have been “hired on contract to write a secret history of the assassination of President Kennedy” (15). That’s basically what author is doing, of course. (“Oh, Blackadder! Are you the Scarlet Pimpernel?”) Contract writer of secret history intends to “build theories that gleam like jade idols” and “follow the bullet trajectories backwards to the lives that occupy the shadows,” to “a strangeness […] that is almost holy. There is much here that is holy, an aberration in the heartland of the real” (15). (cue Baudrillard’s “desert of the real.”) Those bits are the instruction manual of how to read the novel: calendar chapters are criminal who is put away for study, but with a maternal insistence that he’s just a good boy, never meant any harm; holy occupant chapters trace back to the shadowy unsavories in the CIA, the anti-castro ex-pat groups, and so on. Remainder of the novel unfolds this holy jade idolatry of assassination. Espionage thrillers are not my subgenre, and JFK conspiracism strikes me as rightwing hobby. No surprise that the novel is not really written for me.The prose is great at the sentence level, and there’s forthright presentation of known US crimes, such as Guatemala 1954, Bay of Pigs, and so on. Lotsa cool musings by LHO on Marxism and life in the Soviet Union. Nice topical details about New Orleans. Rightwing ideas are mocked fairly openly: “I like to think of people being independent, digging latrines in the woods, in a million backyards. Each person is responsible for his own shit” (173) (cf. the problem with this policy preference in Love in the Time of Cholera!). One numbnut thinks that “Red Chinese troops are being dropped into the Baja” (352), noting that “He wanted to believe it was true. He did believe it was true. But he also knew it wasn’t. [nice dialectical tension there! Pure Hegel!] Ferrie told him that it didn’t matter, true or not. The thing that mattered was the rapture of the fear of believing. It confirmed everything. It justified everything. Every violence and lie, every time he’d cheated on his wife. It allowed him to collapse inside, to melt toward awe and dread” (id.). That’s kickass, and, though it’s limited in the scene to one crypto-fascist’s response to the victory of the Maoists, is the general rule of the novel for reading JFK conspiracism on the one hand and the cold war policies of the principal belligerents on the other. Cute refrain throughout the LHO bits wherein he constantly compares himself to Trotsky: e.g., “Trotsky brushing roaches off the page, reading economic theory in a hovel in eastern Siberia, exiled with his wife and baby girl” (312), paralleling LHO’s domestic situation.As for the actual JFK conspiracism, the opening premise is that some CIA thugs wanted to do a false flag near-miss on JFK: “We couldn’t hit Castro. So let’s hit Kennedy. […] But we don’t hit Kennedy. We miss him” (28). Somehow that matures into a false flag direct hit along the way, but I missed the exact point of dialectical crisis that marks the transition. (It is certain to make the transition, as author is nothing if not meticulous—it’s just that I missed it.)Recommended for sweet-voiced boys who want to be spies, those who communicate outside the range of other men, silently, without gestures or glances, and people who think that the sewer system is a form of welfare state.

  • Justin Evans
    2018-11-21 16:14

    I unintentionally finished this days before the 50th anniversary of JFK's death, which made the whole thing even more enjoyable, if that's the right word. Aside from a bit of the good ole American prose (and its general fear of syntax more complex than subject-verb-object), and brief moments of postmodern angst (can we know anything???), this is an excellent, excellent book. It's easy to read but doesn't ignore the possibility that writing may (I'd go as far as 'should') be noticeable. But most importantly, it's very, very smart. What is an historical novel* meant to do? One character in 'Libra' suggests that history just is the sum total of what we don't know--presumably what we do know being either 'present' or, perhaps, knowing history makes it less likely to have unpleasant effects: if I know x has a history of beating his girlfriends, I'd warn my friend against dating him. Another character suggests that Oswald, who thinks that he wants to enter history, really wants *out* of history: he doesn't want to be a concrete thing, he wants to be a symbol. And of course he has become just that. Most of us know nothing about LHO except the image of him being shot, and despite this ignorance, we also feel that he's the image of America's shift (massive generalization alert) from confidence to neurosis. What we know, in this case at least, is just the symbol. But the symbol is not 'in' history; symbols float free of history. So yes, LHO wanted to get out of history, and he did. He's known. But only as a symbol. What we don't know is the real history. And that's what the historical novel, and narrative art more generally, offers us: some way to understand the messiness of 'history', to burrow under the symbols and decontextualized factoids. Art suggests and plays with what we don't know--here, LHO's personality, wishes and dreams on the one hand, and a possible conspiracy on the other. In other words, the historical novel and conspiracy theories do much the same thing: they try to contextualize symbols, to ground them in history, in the things we don't know. Libra achieves the almost impossible: it confers dignity on LHO and his family by paying attention to history. Conspiracy theories, on the other hand, dignify nobody, except perhaps the theorist in her own eyes. That's not to say that the urge to produce conspiracy theories is blameworthy. They're attempts to understand and get behind the symbols, just like DeLillo's novel. And the novel itself makes it hard to see what difference there might be between art and theory (aside from intelligence and style). I'm sure there is one, but how can I describe it? Right now, I just don't know. *: McCarthy's 'Blood Meridian' was published in 1985, three years before 'Libra'... and both feature a villainous, pederastic man who suffers from Alopecia universalis. Conspiracy?

  • LunaBel
    2018-11-24 15:01

    The facet DeLillo investigates in this historical crime (the murder of President Kennedy) is the power of plot. Lee Oswald did not work alone. There is a whole facet of the crime that keeps jabbing at the ‘lonesome’ aspect of the murder. Lee did not work alone. He is one piece of the puzzle which was shut down to paralyze investigation. This novel does not only concentrate on the crime. We are introduced to his family, to the CIA, to Lee’s mistakes and to twists of all sorts. DeLillo wants the reader to sympathize with Lee, as he is himself a victim in a sense, a victim of poverty, bad luck, and the lack of a paternal figure to set him straight. Of course, these are not reasons to forgive him for killing the president (if he is the one who delivered the final blow). He knew what he was doing; if he is a victim, he is also a murderer; he could have worked harder for a better life rather than be dragged in a context he thought was his. But the thought remains… to what extent was he at fault?

  • Ian Scuffling
    2018-11-26 16:11

    There's a special element to DeLillo's writing where you go along reading and suddenly, unexpectedly, there's a passage that sends forth a couple tentacles that squeeze you tightly--unsettle you from your comfortable reading spot. You're in awe, gripped with epiphany--stunned, really. Moments that only come at the hands of a master. But then sometimes there's a crippling mediocrity that punishes you. Maybe it's DeLillo's game with the reader--holding you so distant and cold that when the magnitude of the message hits, it's amplified by the surrounding noise.Anyway, and unfortunately, Libra exists on the plane of mediocrity with a remarkable sparsity of the above. Perhaps this is an issue with these kinds of literary what ifs--I think specifically of Roth's The Plot Against America where Lindbergh beats FDR in a pre-WW2 presidential race and averts America entering the war. These books tend to be a fun thought experiment, but not much else. Here, we have LHO as victim of a false flag conspiracy orchestrated by clandestine CIA agents who seek to rally the nation against communism in the face of the Bay of Pigs blunder.But even as the pulp novel Libra is, it doesn't satisfy. DeLillo, maybe in an attempt to avoid sounding like a sympathizer, takes an emotional distance to LHO (and virtually every character within) that allows no strong reader engagement. Even in a scene depicting LHO slapping around his Russian wife, Marina, it's so even-handed that the horror of the scene and the judgements a reader should be making on LHO are subverted. This may be a clever trick if there were some character play here, but it seems like DeLillo is as indifferent to all of the cast as the reader feels with no real meta-fictional pranks here.But, as stated above, it is a fun thought experiment--creating a cohesive and whole conspiracy around a man who is kind of an American myth in his own right. To that end, it's a decent excursion from the sometimes daunting pile of books that matter. If one enters with medium expectation, he will leave the book fulfilled.

  • Bam
    2018-11-25 15:50

    Excellent! This is the second of Don DeLillo's books I have read and he is quickly becoming a favorite author of mine. LIBRA is an intriguing fictional imagining of how a conspiracy might have been behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy--"the seven seconds that broke the back of the American century." Richly-detailed chapters alternate between telling the story of Oswald's life while we watch the assassination plot being formed by disgruntled CIA agents and exiled Cubans, angry about the debacle that was the Bay of Pigs. Running through these stories, we also hear the whining voice of Marguerite Oswald as she tries to justify herself and her son's actions to a judge. We also met Jack Ruby with all his neuroses and problems, as he rushes towards his own destiny with fate. He wanted to be a hero but his name will always be associated with that of the assassin he so hated.And to add further complexity to the plot, in the present day, a man named Nicholas Branch, a retired government agent, has been given the task of sifting through all the mountains of data and evidence to compile a book for the Agency about what 'really happened.' He is struck by all the coincidences and muses about their 'endless suggestiveness.'I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in historical fiction. It is suspenseful and disturbing--superb writing that actually brought me to tears at one point. That doesn't happen very often anymore.'Coincidentally,' I recently read Stephen King's novel, 11/22/63, which comes down on the side of the 'lone-shooter' theory and found it interesting to compare the two.

  • qtasha
    2018-12-12 19:11

    Most people don't like playing with known history facts but its done with so such skill, the getting into Oswald head his serious nature, but living in a fantasy world with his limited skills a Russian wife with the American dream that he can't provide for his leftist political ideals. in spite of the murdering of the president of the united states you get the feeling this guy can't get a break he's like beaten dog. The other character who may or may not be a real person or based on a real person the CIA agent who is looking at the events after they transpire. This is the second time I read this book I hope someone take a crack at this text.

  • Neil
    2018-12-16 14:01

    "Think of two parallel lines," he said. "One is the life of Lee H. Oswald. One is the conspiracy to kill the President. What bridges the space between them? What makes a connection inevitable? There is a third line. It comes out of dreams, visions, intuitions, prayers, out of the deepest levels of the self. It is not generated by cause and effect like the other two lines. It is a line that cuts across causality, cuts across time. It has no history that we can recognize or understand. But it forces a connection. It puts a man on the path of his destiny."I am re-reading my way through what I consider to be Don Delillo's "purple patch". I've re-read The Names and White Noise and soon I will re-read Mao II and Underworld. In essence, this is Delillo's output in the 1980s and 1990s. So now this - Libra, the story of Lee Harvey Oswald and the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.The central event of this novel is such a significant event that it is hard to know where to start. Perhaps it is important that there isn’t an agreed factual history of the assassination but there is such a multitude of facts and theories. One of the (possibly underplayed) key strands of the novel is set in a time well beyond 1963 as an analyst attempts to write a definitive history but is overwhelmed by the quantity of data he is sent. Is there any other historical event that has generated such a plethora of facts and theories for such a short duration. DeLillo refers to it as "…the seven seconds that broke the back of the American century" which is such a wonderful phrase because it says firstly that it was a very brief period of time but secondly that it was such a major event. When I was growing up, people used to say that everyone knew where they were at the moment Kennedy was shot (I was only 2 years old, so could make a guess but not be 100% sure).DeLillo does not set out to invent a new conspiracy theory in this novel. As in the quote at the start of my review, he presents us with two strands (plus the later analyst). In one, a well-established conspiracy theory, some CIA agents who are appalled at the failure of The Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba realise that they cannot any longer directly attack Castro. So they launch a plot to fake an assassination attempt on the President of the USA with a manufactured trail of evidence that will point to Cuba and open up the door to have another attempt at removing Castro. Somehow (and this is possibly one of the key points of the book), that plot transmutes into one where the plan to shoot at Kennedy but miss becomes a conspiracy to kill him. They need a central person who can take the fall and Lee Harvey Oswald becomes their choice. In the second strand, which starts much earlier, we trace the life story of Lee Oswald. This story starts many years before 1963 and gradually catches up until the two strands merge.Reading the book with the benefit of hindsight, which all readers must do as it was written 30 years after the events it depicts, adds a huge sense of anticipation to the book. The CIA plot chapters are dated and gradually head towards 22 November and the tension builds for the reader who knows what that date means. Oswald’s chapters are named according to the places he lived. As readers with knowledge of what is going to happen, we can appreciate the irony of statements like this that come as Oswald returns to the USA from Russia:"If they could only make it Texas, things would be all right."The book is called Libra because that was Oswald’s star sign and this is important to the book. Libra is represented by scales and the subject of balance is key. Oswald vacillates between the USA and Russia/Cuba, searching for stability and balance. He becomes the factor that tips the balance in the conspiracy.There is a dreamlike quality to much of the narrative. The overall chronology jumps between the stories which is slightly unsettling (the biggest example of this is Oswald’s attempt to assassinate General Walker: in the CIA timeline, it happens very early on in the book, but we get to it about 200 pages later in Oswald’s personal story). But the narrative chapter by chapter is also dreamlike with ideas thrown out and then re-referenced paragraphs, pages or chapters later but without warning or context. There are apparently random thoughts, like a stream of consciousness.For me, this is a masterpiece of fictionalised history. It mixes real and imagined people seamlessly. It fleshes out a possible background for Oswald and for the assassination plot that incorporates known documents and facts but also imagines things no one could actually know. The narrative and the dialogue is captivating. And all along, we wonder what it is that actually linked Oswald to the conspiracy - was it the "third line" that “comes out of dreams, visions, intuitions, prayers…”Coincidence. He learned in the bayou, from Raymo, that Castro’s guerrilla name was Alex, derived from his middle name, Alejandro. Lee used to be known as Alek.Coincidence. Banister was trying to find him, not knowing what city or state or country he was in, and he walked in the door at 544 and asked for and undercover job.Coincidence. He ordered the revolver and the carbine six weeks apart. They arrived the same day.Coincidence. Lee was always reading two or three books, like Kennedy. Did military service in the Pacific, like Kennedy. Poor handwriting, terrible speller, like Kennedy. Wives pregnant at the same time. Brothers named Robert.Completely engrossing.

  • Eric
    2018-12-06 13:58

    Epic poems are wearisome, Poe said. This is a work of genius - but I'm relieved to be done.