Zero K


Don DeLillo

First Sentence:     Everybody wants to own the end of the world.

Back of the book:

Jeffrey Lockhart’s father, Ross, is a billionaire in his sixties, with a younger wife, Artis Martineau, whose health is failing. Ross is the primary investor in a remote and secret compound where death is exquisitely controlled and bodies are preserved until a future time when biomedical advances and new technologies can return them to a life of transcendent promise. Jeff joins Ross and Artis at the compound to say “an uncertain farewell” to her as she surrenders her body.

“We are born without choosing to be. Should we have to die in the same manner? Isn’t it a human glory to refuse to accept a certain fate?”

These are the questions that haunt the novel and its memorable characters, and it is Ross Lockhart, most particularly, who feels a deep need to enter another dimension and awake to a new world. For his son, this is indefensible. Jeff, the book’s narrator, is committed to living, to experiencing “the mingled astonishments of our time, here, on earth.”

Quotes from the book:

Elsewhere now people wearing facemasks, hundreds moving at camera level, walking or being carried by others, and was this a disease, a virus, long ranks of slow-moving men and women, and is it something spread by insects or vermin and carried on airborne dust, dead-eyed individuals, in the thousands now, asking at a stricken pace that resembled forever.

‘Ordinary moments make the life.’

Suffer the loss, live and suffer and hope it gets easier—not easier but so deeply embedded, the loss, the absence, that I can carry it.

‘Human life is an accidental fusion of tiny particles of organic matter floating in the cosmic dust.’

The kids were lively and engaged, writing stories and drawing animals, those who were able to do these things, and I looked and listened, trying to absorb a sense of the lives that were in the act of happening in this breezy tumult of small mingled voices and large hovering bodies.

‘These are the soporifics of normalcy, my days in middling drift.’

* * * *

Last Sentence:     I had the boy’s cries of wonder.