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Course Hero, "White Noise Study Guide," December 20, 2016, accessed October 16, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/White-Noise/.

Don DeLillo | Biography

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Born on November 20, 1936, in New York City, Don DeLillo first fell in love with reading and writing while working as a playground attendant as a teenager—he read and was inspired by literary giants that included modernist avant-garde writer James Joyce, complex Southern writer William Faulkner, and understated writer Ernest Hemingway. For DeLillo, these writers helped him develop the "sense that a word has a life and a history." After college, DeLillo found work as a copywriter for an advertising agency, something that would influence his savvy understanding of the influence of media. Speaking of White Noise and Steffie's chant of "Toyota Celica" while she sleeps, DeLillo commented that the language of marketing is computer generated, meant "to be pronounceable in a hundred languages. And when you detach one of these words from the product it was designed to serve, the word acquires a chantlike quality." DeLillo published his first novel, Americana, in 1971, and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1978.

White Noise, a satire on the birth of popular culture as a topic of serious study, is DeLillo's eighth novel. In an interview he said, "In White Noise ... I tried to find a kind of radiance in dailiness. Sometimes this radiance can be almost frightening. Other times it can be almost holy or sacred." At the time of its publication, it was his most critically acclaimed novel, winning him a National Book Award in 1985 and establishing him as a postmodern writer.

Contemporary writers Dave Eggers and Jonathan Franzen have cited White Noise as an influence on the development of their own satirical works. DeLillo, who claims his work is about "living in dangerous times," won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Mao II (1992), a Pulitzer Prize nomination for Underworld (1998), the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction (2010), and the inaugural Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction (2013). He was also greatly influenced by postwar European and American cinema of the 1960s and '70s, which he felt enabled him to develop a visual sense for writing. Many of DeLillo's later works also deal with postmodern American culture, politics, and history, as well as issues surrounding technology, consumerism, family, and violence.

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