Review

The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories

by Don DeLillo

In the pantheon of American literature, Don DeLillo occupies a prominent position. Since the publication of AMERICANA in 1971 through POINT OMEGA in 2010, DeLillo has been at the forefront of American postmodern literature. His resume includes countless writing awards, including the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Jerusalem Prize. His writing career embodies prescience about world events that will forever influence the literary landscape of the 20th and 21st centuries.

"For readers unfamiliar with [DeLillo's] voice, the stories represent a wonderful introduction to a remarkable writer. Fans, on the other hand, will perhaps see the roots of several of his novels in these selections."
THE ANGEL ESMERALDA is DeLillo’s first published collection of short stories, which are presented in order of publication from “Creation” (1979) to “The Starveling” (2011). For readers unfamiliar with his voice, the stories represent a wonderful introduction to a remarkable writer. Fans, on the other hand, will perhaps see the roots of several of his novels in these selections.
 
When DeLillo starts his novels, he is uncertain how they will come out. But when he begins a short story, he knows how it will end. "People have said over the years that short stories are more difficult to write than novels. But not for me," he says. "Once the story is established in a writer's mind, it's not that easy to go way off track. You can mess it up in certain ways, but it's much easier to mess up a novel than a short story."
 
“Hammer and Sickle” represents DeLillo’s ability to position his writing in the context of contemporary life. Jerold Bradway is incarcerated in a federal prison for white-collar criminal activity. The prison is populated by numerous Bernie Madoff miscreants, who gather weekly to watch a cable television financial show hosted by two young girls who happen to be Bradway’s daughters. Reading the story today, one is struck by references to the financial difficulties of Greece and Abu Dhabi. Full of irony and humor, it nevertheless almost reads as though it were news rather than fiction.
 
The title story, set in the Bronx, is a tale of dreams and the testing of faith, featuring a nun seeking a miracle. Readers of DeLillo’s brilliant novel UNDERWORLD will recognize its themes in this story of conflict between traditional religious values and a modern worldview.
 
As a writer who places himself in the contemporary world, DeLillo is above all a narrator, whose uncomfortable settings often humanize important themes and ideas. The publication of THE ANGEL ESMERALDA marks DeLillo’s 75th birthday. His contribution to literature with thoughtful and compelling writing is firmly established.
 

Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on November 23, 2011

The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories
by Don DeLillo

  • Publication Date: November 15, 2011
  • Genres: Fiction, Short Stories
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • ISBN-10: 1451655843
  • ISBN-13: 9781451655841