Don DeLillo’s debut novel Americana (1971) opens with a Christmas scene on New York streets as the narrator and the country are winding down from another “dull and lurid year.” While I would never call 2016 dull, it certainly had more than its share of lurid moments. With many more to come, so fasten your seatbelts and grab your barf bags.
But before we get too far into the season of eggnog and ho-ho-hos on every corner, I thought I’d share the first paragraph of DeLillo’s first novel as a way to get us all in a festive mood. Unless you’re a blind man's German shepherd—in which case, you can go back to sleep.
Then we came to the end of another dull and lurid year. Lights were strung across the front of every shop. Men selling chestnuts wheeled their smoky carts. In the evenings the crowds were immense and traffic built to a tidal roar. The santas of Fifth Avenue rang their little bells with an odd sad delicacy, as if sprinkling salt on some brutally spoiled piece of meat. Music came from all the stores in jingles, chants and hosannas, and from the Salvation Army bands came the martial trumpet lament of ancient Christian legions. It was a strange sound to hear in that time and place, the smack of cymbals and high-collared drums, a suggestion that children were being scolded for a bottomless sin, and it seemed to annoy people. But the girls were lovely and undismayed, shopping in every mad store, striding through those magnetic twilights like drum majorettes, tall and pink, bright packages cradled to their tender breasts. The blind man’s German shepherd slept through it all.