Critical Mass

The NYTBR Best Books Vote: Why Curtis Sittenfeld Voted for “White Noise.”


As part of our efforts to uncover The Rest of the Best, we've been contacting the judges to ask what they voted for and why. Here's Curtis Sittenfeld:

“I voted for “White Noise,” which I feel like does several things, all at once, and all of them well. It comments on society, and it has this great domesticity about this family, which is not quite a traditional family. Remember how there are all those step-children? And then it has the sort of social commentary of the main character's Hitler Studies program. On top of all that, there is the huge environmental event at the center of the book.

Each part of the book is bigger, thematically, then the next, and yet it all holds together. It's also one of those books that is just such a pleasure to read. There is a brilliant line in every other paragraph. It's satirical, but still entirely realistic. You know, I hate those books where there are characters who exist simply to make a point or a joke. All of Delillo's characters are well developed, endearing even. At the end of the day, it holds up as a work of realism. Remember how it begins with the kids being dropped off at school in station wagons? Change that to SUVs and you have today. And Delillo was very prescient about the disaster lurking around our environment.

— Curtis Sittenfeld, author of “The Man of My Dreams.”