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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DeLillo in Second Gear...
...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...
Published on 10 April 2003

versus
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The yen spree was releasing Eric from the influence of his neocortex.
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...
Published on 18 Jan 2011 by annwiddecombe


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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
This review is from: Cosmopolis (Hardcover)
...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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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The yen spree was releasing Eric from the influence of his neocortex., 18 Jan 2011
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This review is from: Cosmopolis (Paperback)
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.' The dialogue throughout is almost laughably mannered and I kept hoping the book was a comedy, perhaps an update of American Psycho, with which it shares many themes. Get this conversation with lover/art dealer Didi Fancher.
'I remember what you told me once.'
'What's that?'
'Talent is more erotic when it's wasted.'
'What did I mean?' she said.
'You meant I was ruthlessly efficient. Talented, yes...'
'Did I mean lovemaking as well?'
'I don't know. Did you?'
'Not quite ruthless. But yes. Talented. And a commanding presence as well. Dressed or undressed. Another talent, I suppose.'
'But there was something missing for you. Or nothing missing. That was the point.'

It could be a rip-roaring satire, but Delillo, unlike Ellis, has a need for meaning - and, you feel, is half in love with Packer. DeLillo, via Packer's financial dealings, wants to explore his pet ideas, particularly 'the cross-harmonies between nature and data', the patterns that exist in the ambient world. And of course, he has to have a raving assassin on the loose as well.
Packer, already obviously bonkers, gets increasingly so throughout the day, as he encounters an anarchist demonstration, a rave, the funeral of his favourite rap star, Brutha Fez, and a film shoot which involves 300 naked people lying on the ground. Then he has to face his nemesis: though not before delivering a three page speech to a gun.
Well. You like this kind of thing or you don't. De Lillo can turn a sentence, of course, though his word choice often seems interchangeable with Martin Amis's. To me, like a lot of his work, it strains violently for effect and chucks far too much into the pot. There's a film soon, by Mike Leigh. Sorry, I mean David Cronenberg.
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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
By 
Jean-Marc Lantz (Bettembourg , Luxembourg) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Cosmopolis (Hardcover)
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.
Two disparate characters talking about the human condition in a very clever, some would say post-modern way, is vintage Delillo, reminiscent of the conversation between the novelist and the terrorist in Mao II. The same can be said for the masterful juxtaposition of the public and the private spheres and the ever-recurring lone gunman-motiv. DeLillo is deliberately bordering on self-parody here. It is the way he manages to distill deeply human and humane truths from his prose that make him such an important figure.
Although similarities to Joyce, Wolfe and Dante have been noted in relation to Cosmopolis, it is the other great New York writer Paul Auster (to whom this book is dedicated) whose touch we can discern. DeLillo takes an intrinsically Austerian idea, the modern individual stripped of everything he possesses in the material world, reduced to nothing in a ritual of rebirth before he reinvents himself (Moon Palace, The New York Trilogy) and adds his own little variation...
This is a great but disturbing book in the light of the world's and the USA's current situation and a harsh indictment of the life-denying tendencies of capitalism.
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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
This review is from: Cosmopolis (Hardcover)
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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3.0 out of 5 stars Exercise Regime, 13 July 2014
This review is from: Cosmopolis (Paperback)
White Noise is still my favourite DeLillo novel though this one isn't up to that standard. The jokes aren't so good for one thing and when you're being arch and clever (which this is in spades) you also need to be funny or irritation quickly sets in. Like a lot of modern fiction Cosmopolis seems as much an exercise in writing (think The Goldfinch, The Luminaries, etc) as the narration of a story and it's just as well DDL is such a great writer with such an expansive sense of humour or all would be lost, as it is in his execrable The Body Artist. Others have summarised the plot but my highlights are genuinely profound musings on how digital dovetails with capitalism to everyone's disadvantage bar a few mega-rich bastards like Eric Packer; the final confrontation with a nemesis who is a self-defeating wimp; and the cream-pie interlude with the famous phantom flan-flinger Petrescu. I'm still gunning for Underworld before Christmas - that will benchmark this inconsistent author I reckon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Seriously despressing., 11 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Cosmopolis (Paperback)
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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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We are speculating into the void !, 22 May 2003
By 
Jean-Marc Lantz (Bettembourg , Luxembourg) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Cosmopolis (Hardcover)
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.
Two disparate characters talking about the human condition in a very clever, some would say post-modern way, is vintage Delillo, reminiscent of the conversation between the novelist and the terrorist in Mao II. The same can be said for the masterful juxtaposition of the public and the private spheres and the ever-recurring lone gunman-motiv. DeLillo is deliberately bordering on self-parody here. It is the way he manages to distill deeply human and humane truths from his prose that make him such an important figure.
Although similarities to Joyce, Wolfe and Dante have been noted in relation to Cosmopolis, it is the other great New York writer Paul Auster (to whom this book is dedicated) whose touch we can discern. DeLillo takes an intrinsically Austerian idea, the modern individual stripped of everything he possesses in the material world, reduced to nothing in a ritual of rebirth before he reinvents himself (Moon Palace, The New York Trilogy) and adds his own little variation...
This is a great but disturbing book in the light of the world's and the USA's current situation and a harsh indictment of the life-denying tendencies of capitalism.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Food for thought., 15 May 2014
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This review is from: Cosmopolis (Kindle Edition)
Not light reading. If you wish to challenge your grey matter, rattle a few neurons and shake up your synapses, then this might just suit. I enjoyed it, I think, though it lost me at times. Overall though, it is beautifully written and for all its complexities, is remarkably unpretentious.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Weird but compelling, 11 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Cosmopolis (Kindle Edition)
Delillo was recommended by a friend. Whilst I enjoyed it I can't say I found the last 20% very compelling.
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4.0 out of 5 stars brilliant C20th american author - a great philosophical study of American capitalism and existential nilism., 26 Jun 2013
By 
H. M. Anderson (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cosmopolis (Paperback)
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. I love this genre of book - William Gibson, Philip K Dick and other dystopian authors - and this is brilliantly and beautifully written. The writing style isn't formal, but his use of words and vocabulary is in places sublime. Charting a day in the life of Eric a self-made billionaire who is, in the space of one day, losing a great deal of his fortune, doing all his business and leisure activities in the back of his limo as he travels, and gambling everything for a haircut across town. A crazy story read straight but as an allegory its fascinating. Really enjoying.
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Cosmopolis
Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo (Paperback - 4 Mar 2011)
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