In Libra, a novel that creates a plausible reading of the Kennedy assassination, the narrative center inevitably belongs to Lee Harvey Oswald, the alienated Nobody fed on tough-guy fantasies that he ingests without care from television and film and who, at age twenty-four, is determined to become part of history. In Libra, DeLillo meticulously recreates a believable Oswald, carefully balancing the conflicting extremes of the historic Oswald, specifically, his commitments to both the Left and the Right, his allegiance to the Soviet Union (he was a Soviet defector), and his allegiance to the United States (he was a Marine). Oswald’s astronomical sign, Libra, serves as DeLillo’s metaphor. Unlike others who have tackled the events in Dallas since the Warren Commission, DeLillo is not interested in solving the shooting of the president so much as examining the process of solution itself, how history becomes convincing narrative, how facts produce fictions.
In DeLillo’s scenario, the assassination begins as a charade assassination, a designed near-miss on the president’s motorcade that would convince the country to reconsider the threat from Cuba. That designed near-miss escalates in the hands of disgruntled Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents from the Bay of Pigs debacle into the actual assassination in Dallas. Oswald is a perfect dupe for the emerging plotters, the credible lone gunman necessary for the complex intrigue....
(The entire section is 561 words.)