Why Underworld and Mt. Marcy
Mt. Marcy is the highest point in New York State and I consider Underworld to be one of the best books I have read set in New York in the last twenty years. I look forward to rereading Underworld as it’s been a number of years and I consider DeLillo to be one of the great contemporary American writers.
I also want to recommend the Portable Dorothy Parker. The main river by Mt. Marcy is the Algonquin. Dorothy Parker (August 22, 1893 – June 7, 1967) was an American poet, short story writer, critic, and satirist, best known for her wit, wisecracks and eye for 20th-century urban foibles. From a conflicted and unhappy childhood, Parker rose to acclaim, both for her literary output in publications such as The New Yorker and as a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table. Following the breakup of the circle, Parker traveled to Hollywood to pursue screenwriting. Her successes there, including two Academy Award nominations, were curtailed when her involvement in left-wing politics led to a place on the Hollywood blacklist.
The Algonquin Round Table was a celebrated group of New York City writers, critics, actors, and wits. Gathering initially as part of a practical joke, members of “The Vicious Circle”, as they dubbed themselves, met for lunch each day at the Algonquin Hotel from 1919 until roughly 1929. At these luncheons they engaged in wisecracks, wordplay, and witticisms that, through the newspaper columns of Round Table members, were disseminated across the country.
There are many great books set in New York. Additional books you may want to read are: Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (set in Harlem), The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, A Tree Grow in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, and Breakfast at Tiffanys by Truman Capote.
More About Underworld
Underworld is a novel published in 1997 by Don DeLillo. It was nominated for the National Book Award, was a best-seller, and is one of DeLillo’s better-known novels. Underworld is about the second half of the twentieth century in America and about two people, an artist and an executive, whose lives intertwine in New York in the fifties and again in the nineties.
Underworld continues to receive general acclaim from literary critics. In 2006, a survey of eminent authors and critics conducted by The New York Times found Underworld the runner-up for the best work of American fiction of the past 25 years; it garnered 11 of 125 votes, finishing behind only Toni Morrison‘s Beloved with 15 votes.
Underworld is a non-linear narrative that has many intertwined themes. A central character is Nick Shay, a waste management executive, who leads an undirected existence in late 20th-century America. His wife, Marian, is having an affair with one of his friends. The events of the novel span from the 1950s through the 1990s. The characters in the book respond to several historical events, including the Cuban Missile Crisis and nuclear proliferation.
DeLillo said that the novel’s title came to him as he thought about radioactive waste buried deep underground and about Pluto, god of death. The waste and byproducts of history, dissected and discussed throughout the novel, constantly resurface from the underworld (or, subconscious) of the American population despite their best attempts to repress and bury things they would rather forget. Further connections and connotations about the title can be made between part of the novel’s subject matter (mafia criminals in New York who Nick Shay fantasizes may have had his father killed), and the 1927 gangster film of the same name.
Donald Richard “Don” DeLillo (born November 20, 1936) is an American novelist, playwright and essayist. His works have covered subjects as diverse as television, nuclear war, sports, the complexities of language, performance art, the Cold War, mathematics, the advent of the digital age, politics, economics, and global terrorism. Initially a well-regarded cult writer, the publication in 1985 of White Noise brought him widespread recognition. It was followed in 1988 by Libra, a bestseller. DeLillo has twice been a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction finalist (for Mao II in 1992 and for Underworld in 1998), won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Mao II in 1992 (receiving a further PEN/Faulkner Award nomination for The Angel Esmeralda in 2012), was granted the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction in 2010, and won the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction in 2013.