They run a tight ship at the book signing area of the National Book Festival, which took place over the weekend in Washington D.C. Fans of the written word converged in the thousands on the National Mall over two days to take in dozens of authors — from a variety of genres — talking about their latest offerings. After the presentations, readers lined up to get their books signed.
Chief among the high profile authors was novelist Don Delillo, who was also honored with the inaugural Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction last weekend.
Included in Delillo’s pantheon is “Libra,” his absorbing meditation on a possible scenario that culminated in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It was, Delillo wrote, “the seven seconds that broke the back of the American century.”
JFK’s assassination comes up again in his later novel, “Underworld,” in which New Yorkers at a loft party react to a bootleg copy of the Zapruder film:
“And oh shit, oh god it came from the front, didn’t it?”
Delillo is fascinated by the Zapruder film. He’s been quoted as saying it “could probably fuel college courses in a dozen subjects from history to physics.” He also analyzed the infamous sequence of images as a guest director at the Telluride Film Festival this summer.
I barely made the cut to be in Delillo’s line, and it soon became clear that the ground rules did not augur well for any chat with the reclusive 76-year-old author. No photos, no personalizing, no dilly-dallying. There were security men blocking Delillo from passers-by attempting to steal a photo on their phones.
Given the conveyor belt nature of the exercise, my turn came quickly. Delillo is small fellow, with dour eyes. A cap upon his head.
“Any thoughts on the JFK assassination on the 50th anniversary?” I asked.
He didn’t react — didn’t look up or even seem to hear. Instead, he just flattened out the page in preparation for his signature. Going through the motions. “Oh well,” I thought. “I broke the rules and he isn’t going to respond.”
Delillo signed his name and handed back the book.
Fixing me with an intense stare, he blurted out: “Who did it?”
No ironic smirk, no “Jeeez 50 years later and we still don’t know” shrug of the shoulders. He wanted to know. He held the stare, even as I was forced back into the current of departing fans.
Later that day there was an official discussion on the JFK assassination. Author James Swanson, of “Manhunt” fame, presented his book written for young audiences, “The President Has Been Shot!”
Swanson harbors no doubt about who killed JFK on Nov. 22, 1963: Lee Harvey Oswald, alone.
So, two views of a major historical event from the nation’s front lawn. One from Delillo, a fiction writer whose penetrating observations often have an unsettling ring of truth to them. And Swanson, whose non-fiction treatments are heralded for bringing history to life, like the best of novels.
4 thoughts on “Don DeLillo has a JFK question”
The six points your espouse are very useless in this forum, where we engage in meaningful discourse regarding the coup d’etat in America on 11/22/1963. When you delete the Warren Omission fiction, you have to look elsewhere for the truth. Oswald was watched by no less than four federal agencies. This information makes it unlikely that he alone assassinated JFK. Consider this: 50 years after this coup, the American mass public does NOT believe the Warren Omission Report. When you delve into the actual shooting of JFK, the rescue of LBJ from certain imprisonment because of his own greed and corruption, the actions of the Dallas actors and certain Federal officials (FBI, CIA, SS), you can not rationally conclude Oswald acted alone. National Security is used as a valid cover to obfuscate the truth of illegal activity (Black-ops (wet work) in JFK’S assassination). The nexus of Politician(s), FBI, CIA, Military, and Mafia/Cubans shows a distinct mindset towards assassinating JFK. LHO had no such pre-disposition, motive, means, or opportunity.
Mr. Kirsh, you are right the military-intelligence plus someone else did it. They carried out the assassination, and so, it was a coup d’etat. The evidences do exist, but are hidden and sealed by the government of the United States. Which evidences?. You, the people of the United States, have to ask to your government to release the pictures, films and x-rays of the autopsy of the assassinated president Kennedy. That’s all. Please, don’t waste your time talking about conspiracy theories without showing evidences. And you’ll say, how can you say that the military and the intelligence did it without showing any evidences?. First of all, there are three main questions that have to be answered. These ones are: how Kennedy was assassinated; who did it and why they did it. The second and the third ones can not be answered unless someone answer the first one. The Warren Commission came to the conclusion that only one person, L.H. Oswald, fired three shots. The first one was missed and the others reached the target: Kennedy, but also Connally. However, the evidences presented by Commission, and so by the government, to support those conclusions hold no water. The evidences are vague, contradictories, and what it’s worst, do not show the tracks of the bullets in the body of the President because, as I said, the government of the United States still is withholding the pictures, the films and the x-rays of the autopsy. And why the government is withholding such evidences?. Because those evidences does not match with what the government is trying to demostrate.
Is this where we are in the investigation? It reminds me of the game “CLUE.”
Well one of these author’s books will still be read in a 100 years and the others will be forgotten in five, tossed in the dustbin. Guess which is which.