Don DeLillo Is a Douglas Gordon Fan


Need another reason to pick up Don DeLillo‘s new novel, Point Omega, out tomorrow from Scribner? A key inspiration for the novel was Turner Prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon‘s “24-Hour Psycho” (1993), in which the 1960 Hitchcock thriller is slowed to occupy an entire day. DeLillo first saw the work in 2006 at the Museum of Modern Art, he explained in a recent interview:

The idea began in the same place where the novel begins—in the sixth floor gallery at the Museum of Modern Art—and at the same time, summer of 2006. I wandered in and there was “24 Hour Psycho,” which I found very interesting to watch and to think about. In fact, I returned two or three times after that, and by the third visit I was fairly certain I wanted to write something about it—the idea of time and motion and the sense of self-conscious seeing, because everything happens in such slow motion and because the imagery is somewhat familiar from the movie itself. I began to wonder about such things, about how we see and what we see, and what we miss seeing when we’re looking at things in a more conventional format. And I decided finally that I wasn’t going to risk writing a piece of nonfiction because I’m not a philosopher or a physicist and I could not study time in the matter that seemed to be warranted. So I placed a character in the gallery and began from there.

We’re also pegging DeLillo, whose prose washes over readers’ brains like an airborne toxic event, for an Ed Ruscha fan. “I lived in Greece for a while and that’s where I realized that the alphabet is an art,” he told The Wall Street Journal. “It’s a visual art as well as being a crucial means of expression, and as I learned the Greek alphabet I started looking at letter shapes as I’ve never done before.” Notes the Journal‘s Alexandra Alter:

[DeLillo’s] approach to writing borders on obsessive. He fixates on the shapes of letters and words, and judges each phrase for its visual appearance as well as its rhythm and clarity.

He likes word combinations where one word surrounds another, such as “raw sprawl,” says [Nan] Graham, his editor at Scribner.