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29
2.9 out of 5 stars
Cosmopolis
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on 15 May 2014
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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on 9 September 2014
A pretty taxing read. I enjoyed End Zone, which at least had some playfulness to it. Cosmopolis, on the other hand, read like an overwritten knock-off of American Psycho, without the wit and the extreme violence. Maybe it all means something, but Bret Easton Ellis did it a lot better.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 21 April 2012
I bought this in preparation for seeing the upcoming film staring Robert Pattinson and directed by David Cronenberg. I like to read the book before seeing the film if there is one. I've read it twice now. It loses me in places and is very odd. It leaves you questioning the themes, some of which are clear and others you have to stab a guess at. It's brilliantly written with some lovely turns of phrase and really holds your attention. It's dark, violent and sexy, perfect Cronenberg material, and makes me want to see the film even more
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on 19 December 2014
Interesting book to read well adapted for film ,not everyone's cup of tea interesting review of author who actually lived in the time portrayed.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 August 2007
I've just read Cosmopolis in a state veering between irritation and boredom.

The novel is based around one day in the life of New York multi-millionaire Eric Packer. We learn early on roughly how multi a millionaire he is - white limos, numerous staff, 48 roomed 'apartment' - and DeLillo can't resist lots of boy toy details about all the amazing gadgets in the car.

Packer is not a person blessed with warmth or empathy - he treats his staff with disdain verging on contempt - those of them he isn't screwing, that is - and his whims are everyone's commands.
The day turns out to be a long and eventful one. Packer's staff have to negotiate the streets trying to avoid the US President's visit, the funeral of a famous rapper, and another threat that the security staff pick up.

Maybe I shouldn't take anything at all challenging to read while being pumped full of noxious iloprost for 7 hours as it induces migraine and nausea, but I think I would have been pretty tepid about this book wherever I'd read it. I found DeLillo's stylistic quirks tiresome. For example, he has a habit of occasionally defining the subject of the action in an idiosyncratic way, as in 'He raised an arm in defence, Eric did, and threw a blind punch...'. By the time I'd come across this verbal tick three times, I found it tedious - sure, writing 'Eric raised an arm...' might be ordinary, but sometimes ordinary is OK.
Another similar ostentatious silliness is this: ' Too, the shot was less annoying than the basketball game'. This strikes me as a meaningless attempt to move around the structural constituents of a sentence for the sake of it - literary reconstruction where the ploy serves no purpose, like a written form of cubism or dadaism but without the visually stunning impact.

And if he's going to be clever, he needs to get his facts right. At one point, a physician auscultates Packer's heart by laying a stethoscope on his chest. 'The doctor listened to his heart valves open and close'. No he didn't - the two heart sounds are two sets of valves closing - the opening sound isn't audible unless there's severe disease in a specific valve - and we know Packer doesn't have that as he has a clean bill of health from at least two doctors.
Elsewhere, DeLillo goes for shock tactics to show the lack of importance placed on human life by some of the very rich. But Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities accomplished this much more potently than DeLillo's rather strained attempt after a man has been casually shot dead: 'He gave them a casual hand signal indicating they ought to continue their game. Nothing so meaningful had happened that they were required to stop playing.'

Ratner's Star and The Names are sitting on my bookshelf, but on the strength of this, they can sit there for a little longer.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 May 2003
Eric Parker, 28 years old and a billionaire asset manager, is on his way across Manhattan in his luxurious white stretch limo to get his hair cut. He's also betting against the yen. While he loses catastrophic amounts of money, he is visited en route by various advisers of the financial and technological scene, as well as by a physician (who confirms his nagging fears: his prostate is asymmetrical). He also makes several stops along the way, sometimes in order to rendezvous with his wife of three weeks, Elise Shifrin, the poetess (who, incidentally, keeps popping up in unexpected places), sometimes in order to have sex with various other women. His progress is halted at first by a presidential procession, later by a disastrous political demonstration, and finally by a dead rapper's funeral. As the day progresses into evening and Eric's situation becomes more and more unglued, he witnesses events on his spycam before they actually occur. Then he learns from his primary bodyguard, Torval, that there is a credible threat against his person. A famous pastry stalker nails him in the face with a pie. He takes part in a scene involving hundreds of nude people being filmed for a movie. The more he loses, the freer he feels, leading him to set himself up for his own surreal meltdown.
Post-modern is the word that popped into my mind as I read COSMOPOLIS, except that DeLillo doesn't quite manage to pull off post-modern. While this book wasn't as bad as I expected after reading some of the other reviews, it was still remarkably flat, toneless. A typical slice of conversation: "Yes. But I'm feeling a change. I'm making a change. Did you look at the menu? They have green tea ice cream. This is something you might like. People change. I know what's important now." Eric is a one-dimensional guy and his mental ramblings, as succinct as they may be, don't convey much of a sense of anything. While the theme -- the chaotic and unconformed will prevail -- is highlighted in a somewhat amusing manner (by the asymmetrical prostate, nonetheless), and while several portions of the book -- the burning man, the conversation during the doctor's examination, and the entire last chapter -- were sufficiently unsettling to cause me to think twice about them, my overall impression is of a forced, uninspired tale with dead details, dreadful dialogue, and cardboard characters. But the prose, at least, was above ordinary, unaffected and remote. And the ending actually worked -- enough so that I wish I could give this book three and a half stars instead of just three.
Impressive, COSMOPOLIS is certainly not. But there are enough (albiet faint) flashes of brilliance in this uncomfortably sterile book that I'm going to look up DeLillo's older work, and, if you haven't already, I can suggest you do so too.
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on 11 August 2013
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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on 3 April 2013
i could not get into this book,but tried the film & that was the same.so waste of money all round for me.
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on 3 March 2015
Very pleased with purchase. As described. Many thanks
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Really esoteric read.Well written but not for me.
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