Don DeLillo has written a movie about baseball, Game Six, which is strange for several reasons.
First, DeLillo is a novelist, not a screenwriter, and he's not a particularly accessible novelist at that. He's known for taut, bone-clean postmodern prose about helpless, well-meaning adults facing the fear and anxiety of modern life. He sometimes brings in real-life characters like Lee Harvey Oswald or Chairman Mao, and he sometimes tilts the story towards the surreal, a la Harold Pinter, just to keep us guessing. His stories always maintain a hard, cold surface, never fully allowing the reader inside, and rarely delivering climactic moments. How this was going to translate into a baseball flick seemed not at all clear.
Game Six stars Michael Keaton as a nervous but brash playwright who loves the Boston Red Sox. He's feeling a bit nervous because his new play is opening on Broadway the same night the Red Sox face the New York Mets in the sixth game of the 1986 World Series. Keaton's character seems to enjoy life, though he's struggling to juggle a vivacious girlfriend (Bebe Neuwirth), a moody teenage daughter and a bitter soon-to-be ex-wife. He takes solace in his hopes for a Red Sox World Series victory (not knowing, of course, that the Red Sox are about to lose badly in one of the most suspenseful baseball games of all time) and he frets over the possibility that a hip new drama critic played by Robert Downey Jr. will savage his new play.
The satirical and philosophical science fiction writer -- to whom the future had always been suspect -- had foreseen many technological achievements in his utopias. His stories tell of the difficulties of communication between humans and other civilizations and of the limitation of human understanding. They portray the human indecision between curiosity and xenophobia, and the tragedy and comedy of future machines, human intellect and emotion and their relation to each other.
This article is part of the Jamelah Reads The Classics series. The next post in the series is Jamelah Reads the Classics: The Book of Margery Kempe. The previous post in the series is Jamelah Reads the Classics: Heart of Darkness.
I'm not sure why I like reading Jay McInerney. He's a moderately popular novelist with a shallow intellectual range and a level-headed narrative tone, and yet I felt inexplicably excited to read his new The Good Life, which is about two married Manhattan couples before and after September 11, 2001. As I waded through the first chapters I wasn't sure why I was reading it at all.