Raging Against Dying

In Love-Lies-Bleeding, Don DeLillo examines his own legacy

What's it like to live so inside your art that you become callous to the daily cares of those close to you? There's an illuminating joke about that here. "Two tiny young fish are swimming in the sea. They come upon an older fish. He says to them, 'Hey, fellas, how's the water?' The two young fish swim on past. They swim for many miles. Finally, one fish says to the other, 'What the fuck is water?'"

"The water" is metaphor for a lot in this play—especially death as the medium we swim in all our lives but ignore—but it's also the world of art, which artists use to ward off, they hope, death's finality by providing them with a degree of immortality, but which might just be the delusion immuring them from the consequences of their own self-obsessions. DeLillo, one of the great novelists alive, seems in Love-Lies-Bleeding to be questioning the value of his own life's work and wondering whether the sacrifices have been worth it. It's a sad, vulnerable piece of work, not really successful as drama, but an intriguing look at the self-doubts of its author.

LOVE-LIES-BLEEDING BY DON DELILLO; SCRIBNER. SOFTCOVER, 112 PAGES, $15.

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