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