BOOKS: HOW DID WE GET HERE?

DON DELILLO'S AUDACIOUS UNDERWORLD TRACES THE COLD WAR BACK TO A TITANIC HOME RUN IN 1951

Don DeLillo's 10th novel, Mao II, features a famously reclusive author named Bill Gray who finally goes public, with unhappy consequences. Now DeLillo, not a recluse but visibly wary in the presence of cameras and interviewers, stands braced to face a lot of both during a seven-city tour to promote his new novel, Underworld (Scribner; 827 pages; $27.50). "My publisher has worked very hard on this book," he says, explaining his willingness to go on the road. "I do feel I'm entering some self-replicating white space, where the distinction between working and living has been erased." Reminded of what happened--of what...

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