This book seems like the Catch 22 for the 80s. Not everyone in my book club agrees with me about this, but I stand by it.
Catch 22 seemed very rooted in a sense of the ridiculousness of what was happening in the world of the 60s. It centered on a single man in the military, dealing with commercial transactions and the fear that he was going to die, that people were trying to kill him. Of course, people were trying to kill him. This was war after all. But the catch was that he could not be taken out of the army for being crazy because he was sane enough to realize how crazy the war was.
White Noise is about a man, a college professor on his 3rd? 4th? wife and the huge mish-mash of half-related children that his family has become. He is also afraid of death, but in a far more abstract way than Yossarian in Catch 22.
He is bombarded, constantly and incomprehensively with messages, the White Noise of the media. He encounters tabloids and TV news and the theories of his professorial colleagues with the same attitude of incomprehending acceptance.
The book is not so much a story as an attempt to capture a snapshot of life. I consider the snapshot to be extremely rooted in the mid-80s. THere are a number of cultural artifacts that come from that time and have passed by.
It was an interesting book. Not so much pleasant, but interesting. Worthwhile.