The story takes place in 2022. In the opening pages, Jim and his wife, Tessa, are flying home to New York from a vacation in Paris. Hours of sitting have made them both tedious. “In the air,” DeLillo writes, “much of what the couple said to each other seemed to be a function of some automated process, remarks generated by the nature of airline travel itself.” Jim rambles; his wife humors him. They are “filling time. Being boring” — re-created here with distressing verisimilitude.
Suddenly, the passengers hear “a massive knocking somewhere below them.” Turbulence shakes the plane hard. Panicked voices blare over the intercom. As the chapter ends, Tessa asks, “Are we afraid?”
The novel picks up in a New York apartment where Diane and Max, a long married couple, are waiting for their friends to arrive from Paris for a Super Bowl party. So far, the only guest