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Cosmopolis [Paperback]

Don DeLillo
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 April 2004
A mesmeric tour de force of character, stylistic brilliance, intelligence and wit.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 3 edition (2 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330412744
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330412742
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 542,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Cosmopolis is Don DeLillo's 13th novel. His reputation as one of the most provocative and innovative of American writers is assured, thanks to such books as Underworld and Americana, but this new outing is as likely to challenge the author's legion of admirers as much as it will exhilarate them--and there's nothing wrong with that.

DeLillo's protagonist this time is a well-heeled American, Eric Packer, who sets out one eventful day for a haircut. Gazing through the windows of his white limousine (and availing himself of its state-of-the-art technology), this self-made millionaire takes in the spectacle of financiers being murdered, the funeral of a rapper and some violent anti-globalisation protests. As we come to know DeLillo's anti-hero, we realise that Eric Packer is by no means the most ingratiating of individuals. Cheating on his new wife, he specialises in using people in a cynical and exploitative way. And as this self-serving captain of industry takes an ever-more dangerous journey through a bizarrely rendered New York, it's inevitable that comparisons with Tom Wolfe's classic Bonfire of the Vanities will spring to mind. Resemblances of plot aside, however, the book is a very different animal. Wolfe's narrative had the epic spread of a latter-day War and Peace, whereas DeLillo sharpens and condenses his prose in Cosmopolis to produce an altogether more concise novel.

There are two ways to approach Cosmopolis: as a rudely pointed dissection of the American Dream, or as a surreal, symbolic (and disturbing) road trip. This is not a comforting book, but a bracing and caustic one. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


...a serious and absurd book... it is genuinely, consistently funny; it has charm. -- Daily Telegraph, May 2003

Cosmopolis works best as a historical pageant of our hi-tech fantasies, before plunged into dot.bomb. -- Waterstone's Books Quarterly, April 2003

Full of ideas, and brilliant phrases, Cosmopolis is written with the sort of intensity you simply don't get elsewhere. -- GQ Magazine, April 2003

It is Mr DeLillo's stylistic swagger that makes Cosmopolis such a compelling read. -- Economist, April 2003

There remains more than enough artistry in his sentences and irony in his observation to make the inevitable constantly surprising. -- Observer, May 2003 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you like sentences like that one, you might like Cosmopolis.
A day, possibly the last, in the life of 28 year-old multi-billionaire, Eric Packer, as he goes in search of a haircut.
It's a novel that aims for enormous profundity, using characters that verge on the risible.
Packer himself is close to a Bond villain caricature. 'Every act he performed was self-haunted and synthetic.' His apartment has 48 rooms, a borzoi pen, a shark tank, card parlour, lap pool. What, no fluffy white cat? He owns a bomber. His body fat is under six per cent. He wears sunglasses. His stretch limo has been 'prousted' - cork lined for silence. Inside is a twenty screen video bank, microwave, heart monitor, toilet. His head of security, voice-activated firearm at the ready, accompanies him. As do two bodyguards.
Packer heads across town. The traffic is hellish.The car moves in quarter-inches. The sentences are short. Declamatory. They include phrases like 'zero-saturation'. And words like 'misweave.' Packer stops off twice on the way for sex. Various employees keep popping in and out: Micheal Chin, currency analyst. Dr Ingrams, who gives Packer his daily check up, including prostate tweak. Jane Melman chief of finance. Vija Kinski head of theory. Packer keeps bumping into his wife of twenty two days, Elise Shifrin, bad poet and heir to the Shifrin banking fortune. 'When are we going to have sex again?' he asks her, over untouched green tea and toast. She feels this way about him: 'You know things. I think you're dedicated to knowing. I think you acquire information and turn it into something stupendous and awful.You're a dangerous person..a visionary.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DeLillo in Second Gear... 10 April 2003
By A Customer
...which is still very good.
Most of the story takes place in a stretch limousine that Eric Packer, the main character, a Master-of-the-Universe, is driven around. He basically goes from one side of downtown Manhattan to another in search of a haircut. The journey is made more arduous than normal by a visit by the president and a public funeral of a rapper. Eric thinks that someone is trying to kill him and employs all manner of different security defences to combat this threat.
This is DeLillo operating well within his talents and is nowhere near as good as White Noise (heartily recommended). However, and as you would expect, it is still relentlessly interesting and offers some things to think about.
Pretty good, but not vintage DeLillo.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but fascinating 19 Dec 2003
I certainly wouldn't recommend this, DeLillo's thirteenth novel, to someone looking for a first taste of this brilliant writer - for them, maybe the elegant White Noise or the hypnotic Libra might be a better bet. For anyone familiar with DeLillo's work, however, I'd say Cosmpolis is far too interesting a piece of writing to ignore. It's certainly slim, and some of the ideas may be head-spinning even by DeLillo's standards, but the sheer intellect and craftsmanship (not to mention the deadpan wit) are inspired, and inspiring.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We are speculating into the void ! 22 May 2003
After the relative, intimate calm of The Body Artist following the storm of Underworld, Don Delillo's 13th novel is again a very unsettling proposition. Eric Packer, the 28-year-old megabillionnaire and stock market gambler may well be a, if not "the", Master of the Universe as he weaves his webs from inside his state-of-the-art limousine-cum-office. Priding himself on always knowing what he wants - and today he wants a haircut - he is a born manipulator who seems to have eliminated all traces of death from his clinical world. His intuition and the belief that economic fluctuations are tied to natural cycles have made him rich, and yet there are some serious unpredictable asymmetries disturbing his world. The yen rises beyond reasonable limits and Eric is worried about his prostate and his lack of sleep.
Slowly driving through a pre-11/9 New York paralysed by the visit of the President, the funeral of his favourite rapper (like a carnival celebrating life through death) and the random acts of destruction of a group of antiglobalists (attacking not only his universe but also his car), Eric slowly unravels. Divesting himself of his bodyguards he returns to the world of his childhood - the old hairdresser knew his father well, unlike Eric - and deliberately meets the man who apparently wants to assassinate him that very day.
Cosmopolis is highly construed and appears artificial at times but DeLillo's language is honed and polished to such a fine degree that the effect is totally mesmerizing and approaches the kind of minimal poetry that Eric Packer appreciates so much.
This novel needs total concentration and should be read in as few sittings as possible for it to unfold its terrible beauty.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Seriously despressing. 11 Jan 2014
By Millie
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was interesting. However, I found the main character to be unlikeable, dispassionate, depressed and selfish. I found his life and his interests to be tedious and after a while the different people he met merged into categories of male, and 'potential to get in bed with'. In a sense, it was a horrible read. It left me feeling like society is broken (which in many senses it is) and that in many ways, people are too. I'm not disagreeing with either of these facts, but I definitely didn't want to be reminded of them in this book. It was also slow, with very little action and many of the events being about the way small things are perceived by the protagonist.

On the other hand, DeLillo is unarguably a skilled writer.

I definitely would NOT recommend anyone to read this if they are fond of feeling happy, and FYI the film version featuring Robert Pattinson is somehow even worse. I gave it three stars because, admittedly, it was an interesting read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Weird but compelling
Delillo was recommended by a friend. Whilst I enjoyed it I can't say I found the last 20% very compelling.
Published 8 months ago by Musketeer
4.0 out of 5 stars brilliant C20th american author - a great philosophical study of...
Not finished the book yet, but am zipping through it. It's the first DeLillo book I've read and am loving it. Was inspired to read it after really enjoying the film. Read more
Published 9 months ago by H. M. Anderson
1.0 out of 5 stars Just did not do it for me
This just never seemed to get there for me. It certainly did not fit the sci if label I was expecting.
Published 10 months ago by Chris Knipe
5.0 out of 5 stars A strange, compelling book
For such a slim book, it took me a LONG time to read. The premise is simple. The day in the life of a billionaire as he rides in his limousine through New York in search of a... Read more
Published 11 months ago by LadyJaguar
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretencioso y aburrido.
Este libro es una historia ridicula con pretensión de creativa y crítica social. No es uno ni lo uno ni lo otro, es un libro hecho para transformarse en... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Forrest
1.0 out of 5 stars not good
i could not get into this book,but tried the film & that was the waste of money all round for me.
Published 12 months ago by dee
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
I bought Cosmopolis after reading lots of different reviews about the film adaptation. I was eager to see what the story was and who the characters were before I went to see the... Read more
Published 19 months ago by MahoganyMarauder
1.0 out of 5 stars A few hours of my life I will never get back
I really struggled to get to grips with this book. In fact it is possibly one of the most pretentious books I have read (in a reasonably well-contested field). Read more
Published 21 months ago by aytch79
3.0 out of 5 stars it's an ok book
I bought this book back in 2010 when I heard a movie was being filmed based on its story. It's a very well written book, and interesting story... nothing much to it, I say. Read more
Published 22 months ago by CB
5.0 out of 5 stars Weird and Gripping
I bought this in preparation for seeing the upcoming film staring Robert Pattinson and directed by David Cronenberg. Read more
Published 24 months ago by P. Rowe
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