Cosmopolis Paperback – 2 Apr 2004
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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 dot.com 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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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Don De Lillo writes novels I like to read, though I'm not sure everyone shares my taste. This is a delicious, witty and funny novel about the absurdity of excessive wealth and the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by The Outsider
Excellent product and seller. Fast communication. Highly recommendedPublished 5 months ago by valentina signorelli
Portrait of a 20-something Warren Buffet-like creature. Chilly and wonderful.Published 6 months ago by Y. Yordanov
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.Published 19 months ago by Samuelle40
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... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Christian Hill