Book Review 

In recent novels, DeLillo has pushed language to the point where it doesn't mean anything. Love Lies Bleeding feels like a brutal coda to this aesthetic. Boasting laconic yet liquid dialogue, the play conjures a family as they circle the wagons around fallen paterfamilias Alex, who has suffered a stroke. The drama which ensues will be gravely familiar to some readers. A young wife and an ex-wife battle for supremacy, while a son looks grimly on. Meanwhile, time winds down. As usual with DeLillo's work, the questions which arise are more profound than the action which sparks them. What does memory mean if the words have become bankrupt? How does one express love? These enigmas stand out starkly against the feeding tubes and the bathing needs, the Nembutal and the applesauce – and also the silence of the hospital. "What good is a life that doesn't experience some trace of all possible lives?" asks a character toward the play's conclusion. "What's the point of being only who we are?" It is a stirring, unanswerable question that DeLillo asks without tarnishing it with earnestness or sentimentality.

Love Lies Bleeding: A Play
By Don DeLillo

(Scribner, 112 pages)

More by John Freeman


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