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Cosmopolis: A Novel

Cosmopolis: A Novel

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Cosmopolis: A Novel

3.5/5 (37 avaliações)
207 página
3 horas
Lançado em:
Apr 1, 2003


Now a major motion picture directed by David Cronenberg and starring Robert Pattinson, Cosmopolis is the thirteenth novel by one of America’s most celebrated writers.

It is an April day in the year 2000 and an era is about to end. The booming times of market optimism—when the culture boiled with money and corporations seemed more vital and influential than governments— are poised to crash. Eric Packer, a billionaire asset manager at age twenty-eight, emerges from his penthouse triplex and settles into his lavishly customized white stretch limousine. Today he is a man with two missions: to pursue a cataclysmic bet against the yen and to get a haircut across town. Stalled in traffic by a presidential motorcade, a music idol’s funeral and a violent political demonstration, Eric receives a string of visitors—experts on security, technology, currency, finance and a few sexual partners—as the limo sputters toward an increasingly uncertain future.

Cosmopolis, Don DeLillo’s thirteenth novel, is both intimate and global, a vivid and moving account of the spectacular downfall of one man, and of an era.
Lançado em:
Apr 1, 2003

Sobre o autor

Don DeLillo is the author of many bestselling novels, including Point Omega, Falling Man, White Noise, Libra and Zero K, and has won many honours in America and abroad, including the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Jerusalem Prize for his complete body of work and the William Dean Howells Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his novel Underworld. In 2010, he received the PEN/Saul Bellow Award. He has also written several plays.

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Cosmopolis - Don DeLillo




Sleep failed him more often now, not once or twice a week but four times, five. What did he do when this happened? He did not take long walks into the scrolling dawn. There was no friend he loved enough to harrow with a call. What was there to say? It was a matter of silences, not words.

He tried to read his way into sleep but only grew more wakeful. He read science and poetry. He liked spare poems sited minutely in white space, ranks of alphabetic strokes burnt into paper. Poems made him conscious of his breathing. A poem bared the moment to things he was not normally prepared to notice. This was the nuance of every poem, at least for him, at night, these long weeks, one breath after another, in the rotating room at the top of the triplex.

He tried to sleep standing up one night, in his meditation cell, but wasn’t nearly adept enough, monk enough to manage this. He bypassed sleep and rounded into counterpoise, a moonless calm in which every force is balanced by another. This was the briefest of easings, a small pause in the stir of restless identities.

There was no answer to the question. He tried sedatives and hypnotics but they made him dependent, sending him inward in tight spirals. Every act he performed was self-haunted and synthetic. The palest thought carried an anxious shadow. What did he do? He did not consult an analyst in a tall leather chair. Freud is finished, Einstein’s next. He was reading the Special Theory tonight, in English and German, but put the book aside, finally, and lay completely still, trying to summon the will to speak the single word that would turn off the lights. Nothing existed around him. There was only the noise in his head, the mind in time.

When he died he would not end. The world would end.

*    *    *

He stood at the window and watched the great day dawn. The view was across bridges, narrows and sounds and out past the boroughs and toothpaste suburbs into measures of landmass and sky that could only be called the deep distance. He didn’t know what he wanted. It was still nighttime down on the river, half night, and ashy vapors wavered above the smokestacks on the far bank. He imagined the whores were all fled from the lamplit corners by now, duck butts shaking, other kinds of archaic business just beginning to stir, produce trucks rolling out of the markets, news trucks out of the loading docks. The bread vans would be crossing the city and a few stray cars out of bedlam weaving down the avenues, speakers pumping heavy sound.

The noblest thing, a bridge across a river, with the sun beginning to roar behind it.

He watched a hundred gulls trail a wobbling scow downriver. They had large strong hearts. He knew this, disproportionate to body size. He’d been interested once and had mastered the teeming details of bird anatomy. Birds have hollow bones. He mastered the steepest matters in half an afternoon.

He didn’t know what he wanted. Then he knew. He wanted to get a haircut.

He stood a while longer, watching a single gull lift and ripple in a furl of air, admiring the bird, thinking into it, trying to know the bird, feeling the sturdy earnest beat of its scavenger’s ravenous heart.

*    *    *

He wore a suit and tie. A suit subdued the camber of his overdeveloped chest. He liked to work out at night, pulling weighted metal sleds, doing curls and bench presses in stoic repetitions that ate away the day’s tumults and compulsions.

He walked through the apartment, forty-eight rooms. He did this when he felt hesitant and depressed, striding past the lap pool, the card parlor, the gymnasium, past the shark tank and screening room. He stopped at the borzoi pen and talked to his dogs. Then he went to the annex, where there were currencies to track and research reports to examine.

The yen rose overnight against expectations.

He went back up to the living quarters, walking slowly now, and paused in every room, absorbing what was there, deeply seeing, retaining every fleck of energy in rays and waves.

The art that hung was mainly color-field and geometric, large canvases that dominated rooms and placed a prayerful hush on the atrium, skylighted, with its high white paintings and trickle fountain. The atrium had the tension and suspense of a towering space that requires pious silence in order to be seen and experienced properly, the mosque of soft footfall and rock doves murmurous in the vaulting.

He liked paintings that his guests did not know how to look at. The white paintings were unknowable to many, knife-applied slabs of mucoid color. The work was all the more dangerous for not being new. There’s no more danger in the new.

*    *    *

He rode to the marble lobby in the elevator that played Satie. His prostate was asymmetrical. He went outside and crossed the avenue, then turned and faced the building where he lived. He felt contiguous with it. It was eighty-nine stories, a prime number, in an undistinguished sheath of hazy bronze glass. They shared an edge or boundary, skyscraper and man. It was nine hundred feet high, the tallest residential tower in the world, a commonplace oblong whose only statement was its size. It had the kind of banality that reveals itself over time as being truly brutal. He liked it for this reason. He liked to stand and look at it when he felt this way. He felt wary, drowsy and insubstantial.

The wind came cutting off the river. He took out his hand organizer and poked a note to himself about the anachronistic quality of the word skyscraper. No recent structure ought to bear this word. It belonged to the olden soul of awe, to the arrowed towers that were a narrative long before he was born.

The hand device itself was an object whose original culture had just about disappeared. He knew he’d have to junk it.

The tower gave him strength and depth. He knew what he wanted, a haircut, but stood a while longer in the soaring noise of the street and studied the mass and scale of the tower. The one virtue of its surface was to skim and bend the river light and mime the tides of open sky. There was an aura of texture and reflection. He scanned its length and felt connected to it, sharing the surface and the environment that came into contact with the surface, from both sides. A surface separates inside from out and belongs no less to one than the other. He’d thought about surfaces in the shower once.

*    *    *

He put on his sunglasses. Then he walked back across the avenue and approached the lines of white limousines. There were ten cars, five in a curbside row in front of the tower, on First Avenue, and five lined up on the cross street, facing west. The cars were identical at a glance. Some may have been a foot or two longer than others depending on details of the stretch work and the particular owner’s requirements.

The drivers smoked and talked on the sidewalk, hatless in dark suits, sharing an alertness that would be evident only in retrospect when their eyes went hot in their heads and they shed their cigarettes and vacated their unstudied stances, having spotted the objects of their regard.

For now they talked, in accented voices, some of them, or first languages, others, and they waited for the investment banker, the land developer, the venture capitalist, for the software entrepreneur, the global overlord of satellite and cable, the discount broker, the beaked media chief, for the exiled head of state of some smashed landscape of famine and war.

In the park across the street there were stylized ironwork arbors and bronze fountains with iridescent pennies scattershot at the bottom. A man in women’s clothing walked seven elegant dogs.

He liked the fact that the cars were indistinguishable from each other. He wanted such a car because he thought it was a platonic replica, weightless for all its size, less an object than an idea. But he knew this wasn’t true. This was something he said for effect and he didn’t believe it for an instant. He believed it for an instant but only just. He wanted the car because it was not only oversized but aggressively and contemptuously so, metastasizingly so, a tremendous mutant thing that stood astride every argument against it.

His chief of security liked the car for its anonymity. Long white limousines had become the most unnoticed vehicles in the city. He was waiting on the sidewalk now, Torval, bald and no-necked, a man whose head seemed removable for maintenance.

Where? he said.

I want a haircut.

The president’s in town.

We don’t care. We need a haircut. We need to go crosstown.

You will hit traffic that speaks in quarter inches.

Just so I know. Which president are we talking about?

United States. Barriers will be set up, he said. Entire streets deleted from the map.

Show me my car, he told the man.

The driver held the door open, ready to jog around the rear of the car and down to his own door, thirty-five feet away. Where the file of white limousines ended, parallel to the entrance of the Japan Society, another line of cars commenced, the town cars, black or indigo, and the drivers waited for members of diplomatic missions, for the delegates, consuls and sunglassed attachés.

Torval sat with the driver up front, where there were dashboard computer screens and a night-vision display on the lower windshield, a product of the infrared camera situated in the grille.

Shiner was waiting inside the car, his chief of technology, small and boy-faced. He did not look at Shiner anymore. He hadn’t looked in three years. Once you’d looked, there was nothing else to know. You’d know his bone marrow in a beaker. He wore his faded shirt and jeans and sat in his masturbatory crouch.

What have we learned then?

Our system’s secure. We’re impenetrable. There’s no rogue program, Shiner said.

It would seem, however.

Eric, no. We ran every test. Nobody’s overloading the system or manipulating our sites.

When did we do all this?

Yesterday. At the complex. Our rapid-response team. There’s no vulnerable point of entry. Our insurer did a threat analysis. We’re buffered from attack.



Including the car.

Including, absolutely, yes.

My car. This car.

Eric, yes, please.

We’ve been together, you and I, since the little bitty start-up. I want you to tell me that you still have the stamina to do this job. The single-mindedness.

This car. Your car.

The relentless will. Because I keep hearing about our legend. We’re all young and smart and were raised by wolves. But the phenomenon of reputation is a delicate thing. A person rises on a word and falls on a syllable. I know I’m asking the wrong man.


Where was the car last night after we ran our tests?

I don’t know.

Where do all these limos go at night?

Shiner slumped hopelessly into the depths of this question.

I know I’m changing the subject. I haven’t been sleeping much. I look at books and drink brandy. But what happens to all the stretch limousines that prowl the throbbing city all day long? Where do they spend the night?

*    *    *

The car ran into stalled traffic before it reached Second Avenue. He sat in the club chair at the rear of the cabin looking into the array of visual display units. There were medleys of data on every screen, all the flowing symbols and alpine charts, the polychrome numbers pulsing. He absorbed this material in a couple of long still seconds, ignoring the speech sounds that issued from lacquered heads. There was a microwave and a heart monitor. He looked at the spycam on a swivel and it looked back at him. He used to sit here in hand-held space but that was finished now. The context was nearly touchless. He could talk most systems into operation or wave a hand at a screen and make it go blank.

A cab squeezed in alongside, the driver pressing his horn. This set off a hundred other horns.

Shiner stirred in the jump seat near the liquor cabinet, facing rearward. He was drinking fresh orange juice through a plastic straw that extended from the glass at an obtuse angle. He seemed to be whistling something into the shaft of the straw between intakes of liquid.

Eric said, What?

Shiner raised his head.

Do you get the feeling sometimes that you don’t know what’s going on? he said.

Do I want to ask what you mean by that?

Shiner spoke into his straw as if it were an onboard implement of transmission.

All this optimism, all this booming and soaring. Things happen like bang. This and that simultaneous. I put out my hand and what do I feel? I know there’s a thousand things you analyze every ten minutes. Patterns, ratios, indexes, whole maps of information. I love information. This is our sweetness and light. It’s a fuckall wonder. And we have meaning in the world. People eat and sleep in the shadow of what we do. But at the same time, what?

There was a long pause. He looked at Shiner finally. What did he say to the man? He did not direct a remark that was hard and sharp. He said nothing at all in fact.

They sat in the swell of blowing horns. There was something about the noise that he did not choose to wish away. It was the tone of some fundamental ache, a lament so old it sounded aboriginal. He thought of men in shaggy bands bellowing ceremonially, social units established to kill and eat. Red meat. That was the call, the grievous need. The cooler carried beverages today. There was nothing solid for the microwave.

Shiner said, Any special reason we’re in the car instead of the office?

How do you know we’re in the car instead of the office?

If I answer that question.

Based on what premise?

I know I’ll say something that’s halfway clever but mostly shallow and probably inaccurate on some level. Then you’ll pity me for having been born.

We’re in the car because I need a haircut.

Have the barber go to the office. Get your haircut there. Or have the barber come to the car. Get your haircut and go to the office.

"A haircut has what. Associations. Calendar on the wall. Mirrors everywhere. There’s no barber chair

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O que as pessoas pensam sobre Cosmopolis

37 avaliações / 28 Análises
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Avaliações de leitores

  • (4/5)
    Poetry pours from Cosmopolis, a sweaty rut of discourse and images about the nature of power in our world. Delillo is prescient and impactful, but he's always been, hasn't he?

    The protagonist finds obsoletion everywhere and the reader cringes, suddenly questioning their own utility. The ending proved blurred but effective. I sense the message within. The dedication to Paul Auster was intriguing as well. I may see the film now.
  • (2/5)
    mhaaa, disappointing
  • (2/5)
    I wanted to like this one more than I really did. I had a hard time reading it- not due to language, just because of how it came across. To me, the plot came off as very self absorbed, and nihilistic. It's kind of a depressing read. I wasn't fond of the print either. A stupid point, I understand, still it's one to be made. The print seemed too big for story. The vocabulary was large enough but came off almost too simple. I picked up this book because I wanted to read it before I watched the movie.....kind of wondering if I'm going to watch the movie now. Bottom line- It wasn't all that great of a read for me.
  • (3/5)
    Cosmopolis tells the story of a young and very wealthy man as he spends his day in his limousine, meeting employees, seeing his wife and mistresses, getting caught in a large protest, getting a haircut, and finally, losing grip of reality.The book reminded me very much of American Psycho. It shows a rich man, involved in sex and grandeur, but who suffers from a lack of real feeling, and in the end, resorts to violence. It shows an enormous emptiness in the lives of the rich and gives a sense of being out of touch with reality and with humanity.Though the book is well-written, and I understand the point DeLillo wants to make by writing in this way, I didn't find it a very enjoyable read. It is impossible to really connect to the characters in the novel and I never really got into the novel. I get that this is probably done on purpose, but it's not a novel I'd want to reread or would recommend to someone.
  • (3/5)
    A slim pallid affair.
  • (2/5)
    Having recently finished "Cosmopolis" I can't decide if my mind has been blown or I'm underwhelmed. I'm leaning towards the latter. During billionaire Eric Packer's quest through New York for a haircut, I had a hard time shaking the hackneyed feel of the "rich guy does sleazy things before an existential crisis and epiphany" progression. Like other reviewers, I also occasionally lost track of who was speaking during DeLillo's sometimes lengthy dialogue exchanges and found myself guessing at times. I understand the "Ulysses" comparison and can appreciate the heightened relevance following the 2008 financial meltdown (notable since this book was published years before the crisis), but I felt myself giving up after Eric experiences a revelation during the dead rapper's parade. In a book of 209 pages (in my borrowed 1st edition), the parade felt like it lasted about one quarter of that total. The concluding pages felt more thematically fitting as Eric begins to fully understand how tragic, pathetic and complete his demise has become, but I get the feeling that this evolution in his sense of self could, and should have been handled in the short story format. With the exception of the particularly exciting, violent political demonstration that grips lower Manhattan while Eric's limo wanders through, so much of this book seems to be about his sexual escapades and his electronic gadgets. Maybe that's the point, but I just wasn't feeling it. I'll delve into some of DeLillo's earlier works at a later time, but I was surprisingly disappointed with "Cosmopolis."
  • (2/5)
    I am on the fence with this one - I have yet to decide whether I liked it or not. I found the book confusing, had a few annoying grammar issues and it left me with too many question marks: not the kind that helps you process the story, but the kind that leaves you with the feeling that too much information was missing. But, the more I think about the novel, the more it grows on me. Although, I can't seem to find the words the explain why. Just a feeling.

    For me the novel was, for lack of a better word, spazy. I had a hard time tracking the conversions and some occurrences: having to re-read whole passages and sometimes just giving up and moving on. There were some dialogue instances that I felt there was an attempt to create a stream of consciousness or a two-dialogues-in-one sort of thing, but it only managed to read disjointed, bumpy, and unclear.

    Also, the numerous financial talks (a lot of time delivered in long monologues), really managed to zone me out. This point maybe because of me - I tend to get cross-eyed when faced with financial/mathematical theories. At some point it felt almost like a finance guidebook, or the like. Not what I'm looking for in prose.

    I have an affinity to hopelessly flawed characters, especially if they are on the sociably-unaccepted-behavior side of the scheme. Detached, lost, strangers to proper social conducts, unaffected, numb, bored, indifferent characters hold a special place in my heart. Eric Packer is such a character. Not only is he well defined, he's consistent.

    However, he's the only developed character in the book. I could not, for the life of me, understand Benno Levin. Not who he is, not his intentions. Nothing. He definitely has an issue, but I don't think the answer of this can be found in Cosmopolis. That kind of misses the point of a book - it leaves you with the wrong kind of a question mark.

    I don't understand Eric's wife - at all - to the point of contemplating whether she's just a figment of someone's imagination (Eric's?). She's practically a ghost, only set to appear when Eric notices the world around him. Though this paragraph can describe almost all other characters, as well.

    Not all was bad. The out-of-context and candid conversations were refreshing: they were fun, they were flowing, they had a nice edge to them - even a charisma, maybe (do conversations have charisma?). Eric's character was appealing (to me, like I've said, I love them when they are obnoxious). Some scenes where painted remarkably, to the point I could feel and hear and smell the scenery (while some, I had the feeling, defied the laws of physics).

    The most important thing to me when reading a book, is whether I get sucked in, and this is where Cosmopolis really sits on the fence: I was eager to read on, but the chapters are so long, you don't get the breath to say, "okay, I have GOT to read this next one". It became sort of tedious at some point, especially because I make it a point to put down a book only at the end of a chapter (I have weird reading rituals). There were enough places where the book could have been cut to insert chapters, and I think it would have helped with the book's overall flow (and not impede it).

    It is my first Don DeLillo, probably a great grievance on my side, after reading the other reviews. I will try to read some of his other work; it may help me judge this one better.

  • (4/5)
    To be honest, I had no idea a movie was out until just yesterday. Does that speak to the movie's lack of advertising, or my near-total ignorance of movies?

    All's well. I'd rather not have the movie affect my perception of the novel. It was a safe bet, as this was a deeply challenging and stimulating little book, and now one of my favorites by DeLillo.

    DeLillo's ornate and hallucinatory prose style is reason enough to read him. So we turn to the 'plot', which is a very loose definition for the series of events forthcoming, and again is a string of thoughts, reflections, and vivid events and ruminations.

    We see Eric Packer, a young tycoon, venture across New York in a marble-floored limousine, through presidential motorcades, a mystic-rapper's funeral, immolation, the ideological crises of late 1990s capitalism, and so forth. The Odyssey in the New York of Giuliani, of Enron, and Trump. I do not know who the actor for Packer was, so I saw instead a mask-like face, distorted by plastic surgery. Thinking and observing mostly. He ponders the deepest structural changes while aiming for the most cosmetic one - a haircut. Overwhelming streams of data and capital, and the atavistic impulse to smash it all.

    More of a prose-poem than a novel, really. Deliciously heavy and ominous. Fits in our world as much as it did then. Perhaps only he might have predicted the decade after.
  • (4/5)
    When I first read Cosmopolis on its release I thought it was okay but not great. After the heft and glory of Underworld, I figured The Body Artist would be his throat clearing and that Cosmopolis would get back to critiquing the world. (Which is not to say I disliked The Body Artist -- I KNEW it would be nothing like Underworld and was okay with that). But I felt that Cosmopolis's statements about money and art were nothing grand.

    Then I read it again while preparing to write my MA thesis on DeLillo and discovered that Cosmopolis adds to his overall commentary. Perhaps I just got so deep into his work that I believe the book works better than it does, but I suspect a second read would cause alot of the mediocre reactions I've heard and seen out there to change for the better.

    Then again, I still get sad when I see how many people hate Underworld.... so maybe I'm just a DeLillo optimist.
  • (3/5)

    1 pessoa achou isso útil

    This is my first read of DeLillo. I enjoyed the read. It is not my usual type of book. I am interested in seeing the movie now. It has some surreal and humorous aspects to it. It was not a happy story. I think it is meant to remind you of a modern day Howard Hughes.

    1 pessoa achou isso útil

  • (4/5)
    Eric Packer, 28 year-old billionaire hedge fund manager, does not know it yet, but he is about to have a really, really bad day. As he wakes up one spring morning in April 2000, the massive currency carry trade (i.e., short Japanese yen, long U.S. equities) on which he has staked his firm’s entire future is inexplicably going against him. Further, there have been several threats on his life from an unspecified source. Seemingly worst of all, his heiress wife of only a few weeks has so far refused to sleep with him.So, what does Packer do? In his own version of Bloomsday (i.e., Leopold Bloom’s celebrated single-day wandering around Dublin in Ulysses), he decides he needs a haircut! Crossing mid-town Manhattan from the East River to the Hudson River in his customized limousine, he stretches that simple errand into a dizzying array of activities, including three meals with his wife, several casual sexual encounters, conducting his business affairs in a mobile office while getting a medical exam, getting caught in a protest demonstration, attending a funeral, becoming an extra in a movie production, and, yes, stopping in for a haircut. And none of that ends up being the most significant thing that happens to Packer that day.This is the second time I have read Cosmopolis and I have to confess that I did not like it much when I encountered it upon its publication in 2003. Coming off a string of profoundly thought-provoking novels (e.g., White Noise, Libra, Underworld), I guess I expected nothing short of perfection from Don DeLillo. In fact, given that this was his first novel since the cathartic events of September 11, 2001, I suppose I thought Cosmopolis would be the author’s statement that helped put everything that had happened into perspective. Instead, what I found in the novel at that time was a tersely written, post-modern diatribe against global capitalism that featured one of the most unlikeable protagonists in recent memory. To make matters worse, the story was set a year-and-a-half before that terrible Tuesday and dealt with the threat of terrorism in an unsatisfyingly vague way.However, what a difference a decade makes, at least to this reader. Given the global financial collapse in 2008—which can be viewed as terrorism of its own kind—as well as the resulting Occupy Wall Street protest movement, what once seemed like a missed opportunity on the part of the author now appears to be nothing short of a visionary statement. While it was not the book I wanted at the time—DeLillo got around to addressing the 9/11 tragedy a few years later in Falling Man--it was the story the author seems to have wanted and needed to tell. Time has shown that he made the right choice. If this was a novel you did not like (or even avoided) the first time, it might be worth a second look.
  • (3/5)
    This novel tells of a day in the life of Eric Packer, a 28 year old mufti-billionaire, who decides to drive (or, rather, be driven in his colossal white stretch limousine) across New York for a haircut. Packer lives in an immense 48 room apartment which has its own cinema, swimming pool and every other conceivable accessory, and the limousine at his disposal seem almost equally well-appointed, weighed down with multiple computer screens, banquettes, televisions and the capacity for a mini operating theatre.However, Packer has chosen the wrong day to try to cross the city - the President is in town, complete with Security Service motorcade, and a fabled dead rapper's funeral draws thousands of mourners. To compound the gridlock an anti-capitalism riot kicks off in Manhattan.This books resounds with DeLillo's prose which somehow manages simultaneously to be both stark and almost poetic. The city itself is the real hero of the book and DeLillo's descriptions of the urban architecture are engrossing. However, too often it tapers into authorial self-indulgence, and for much of the book I simply felt that I couldn't care less about Eric Packer. I think that I am glad I read it, but I would hesitate to recommend it to anyone else.
  • (5/5)
    A headlong rush to oblivion, Cosmopolis is DeLillo's take on the consequences of pure unfettered unregulated market capitalism. Comparing society to capital markets is not unique, but viewing the travails of one twenty-something billionaire on a quest to get a haircut as a microcosm for market forces, theoretical capitalism and the never ending quest to separate capital from labor, and thus humanity, is brilliant on multiple levels.Eric Packer, self-made billionaire by way of a computer program to predict foreign currency markets, wants to get his hair cut. He leaves his multilevel penthouse apartment, summons his driver, and embarks across Manhattan on a day from hell. The President is in town, a massive protest is taking place, and a famous rapper's funeral procession are all converging on Eric. This is going to be a long drive. That Eric could probably step out of his limo and walk to get his hair cut perfectly symbolizes the sheer inhumanity on display by the soulless megarich in their pursuit of wealth for wealth's sake.As Eric lurches through the crosstown traffic, various people intrude upon his mobile sanctum, including his new wife, whom he has barely seen since their marriage though she has apparently been in their massive apartment (perhaps on the other side of the gigantic aquarium), various business functionaries such as his company's Chief of Finance and Chief of Theory, whose sole job seems to be to stimulate Eric's capacity to think of new ways to make more money. Packer has bet on the yen and bet large - so large that if he has bet wrong he and his company could be ruined. The avarice that allows someone to risk such a fortune regardless of the consequences reminds me of the massive JP Morgan trading losses comeing to light in June 2012.As with much of DeLillo's work, the things said and unsaid are equally important as no one writes of the small spaces and hesitating communication gaps as well. The second person dialogue, rather than intruding upon the reader, reinforces the impersonality of Packer and helps with the feeling that Eric is out of synch with time, much as the markets seem to be out of synch with society. So much is spoken of the market, it begins to take on anamorphic qualities - ironic since the people attempting to master or manipulate it couldn't be less human.In an effort to predict and control the markets, the attempt leads to a spectaclar conflagration of ego and id with devastating consequences. After all, if corporations are people, according to standard psychological definitions, they would be sociopaths - lacking empathy and the ability to understand other people.Read it and weep.
  • (5/5)
    This book was pretty wild. It really bothered me at first; DeLillo has this tendency to be overly lyrical and poetic in his prose which leaves me feeling lost (also the lack of question marks: "What."), but once I slipped to the groove I felt like it was definitely worth it. I am still thinking about this one.
  • (3/5)
    I'm in two minds about this one. On the one hand this novella left a feeling of profound meh. Plot-wise, it describes a day in the life of Eric Packer, an emotionless billionnaire, and his limo ride to the other side of NYC to get a haircut at the usual place. Interruptions along the way -- lunch, a protest march, a hotel room quickie with a bodyguard -- as well as regular but semi-random meetings with staff members are used as entry points for unnatural conversations that run on vapid technobabble and self-obsessed pomo musings. Then there's the weird relationship with his wife Elise, an intentionally unemotional marriage de raison that both partners are proudly indifferent about. None of the characters are likeable, none of the characters care about anything except the quiet consideration of their own desperate attempts at not feeling bored. Or perhaps at feeling bored as long as no-one else is -- it's hard to say. All of this makes Cosmopolis a scarcely uninterrupted monotony of disinterested observations about nothing in particular. Or about market forces -- it's hard to say. On the other hand, this isn't a novella that is intended to be enjoyed at plot-level only. Style-wise and idea-wise I found more to hold my attention here, but only barely so. The cyclical structure leading from one insipid character/thought to the next feels played out around halfway in, but is sustained throughout. I understand that this is intentional -- much of the characters' musings deal with being hyper-aware of themselves at the centre of the changing times and with feeling vaguely puzzled about the encroaching obsoleteness of Concepts and Notions and Things. But I still think that this would have worked better in an even shorter form. As Eric's identity disintegrates he destroys the lives of more and more people around him. Here Cosmopolis gains some momentum, some characters are finally making an impact on other characters, but it's too little too late. Everything drowns in the sustained aversion to affection that Delillo throws at us. In conclusion, I think Cosmopolis is a clear case of style over content, with too much repetitiveness in both to make the whole fall short of an engaging read.
  • (4/5)
    This is a really weird book, which will make a really weird movie. I can't wait. It's very masculine, very Hemingway: short, curt sentences, lots of poetic inner monologues. Time/money/events are moving so fast that they lose structure; Eric sees events occur on his monitors that then occur in real-time seconds later. I think once of twice he sees events happen while his eyes are closed...am I remembering that right? Eric is oddly likable in an unlikable way. He is ruthless, self-absorbed, and yet: Maybe I just like characters that are introspective and smart, regardless of jerk factor. He gleefully embraces the chaos and destruction, in fact invites it and creates it. I wonder how many times "what." is used in this book. My estimate: lots. There is a whole theme throughout on the meaning of words, or rather the non-meaning, like how "skyscraper" and "vestibule" are an antiquated words that have lost meaning in the "future" time of 2000. I wonder if they will keep that sort of thing in, as dialogue or something. I recommend it. PM me if you wish to borrow, Goodreads friends that I know in person. ;)
  • (2/5)
    wow....the lowest rating i have ever left.....either it was a bad book or it went right over my head....thank goodness it was short!! This book was entirely unbelievable to me. A few brief moments of intrigue, but very few. I can live with skewing the believability curve if we are in a fantasy or sci-fi setting. But this had too many self-absorbed characters concerned about vapid topics and reacting to events in unnatural ways, all in a believable setting, and the combination left me lost and uninterested, two responses an author would prefer not to get from a reader. And again, i may not be up the intellectual level necessary to 'get' this book, but since I read for pleasure, my reaction is what it is. As always, I will anxiously read all the other reviews after i have finished mine to see what others think, and maybe even learn something. In closing, too may unlikable characters reacting in an abnormal ways to ridiculous situations to ignite any passion in me. I hope DeLillo's larger epic novels are better because there are several of them still on my shelf to be read.
  • (5/5)
    Re-reading this, it seems stronger than I remember it. DeLillo turns the cliche of the 'global village' round, & has the cosmos existing in the city, in the person of Eric Paker, & his mobile empire. DeLillo is exact in his choice of words, asking if certain words such as 'vestibule' & 'mutton' are obsolete, while at the same time creates a sustained and complete picture of the world of the world of the flow of information, money and power (like the waves & radiation of White Noise). It is funny, precise and prophetic, as you would expect from DeLillo.
  • (3/5)
    A short novel with over-the-top characters that includes money, sex, and murder in New York City at the dawn of the 21st century. This work doesn't hold up to other DeLillo novels for me, most notably the epic Underworld, although it does portend financial excess and greed that has shaken the current economy.
  • (2/5)
    Cosmopolis feels from the outset like a DeLillo. His style oozes onto the page and for he first few pages I was in the heaven of a having a new DeLillo character to immerse myself in. After the first few pages the style began to feel forced. I actually thought that I might be reading a Douglas Coupland by mistake. The sex and encounters with women, the use of technology and technological speak don't come naturally. They halt the flow and disrupt the character. Enhanced bu the short, almost to the length of being magazine disposable, feels like an attempt to fit into generation Y. For a moment I wondered if this was purposeful, if this was the struggle of the protagonist himself, but if this was the case it is lost for most of book.
  • (3/5)
    One thing, "Title: A Novel" as a naming convention is nowhere near as clever a piece of marketing strategy as you get the feeling its originators think it is.Anyway, this A Novel adopts (spuriously) the trappings of Ulysses by being about a dude who goes across town in a day and has sexual and other encounters and considers the fragmentation of his identity and gets around to thinking about his dad eventually. And in the fathers-sons light of the Joyce book, it is a bit cute when Packer steps into the Dedalus role to shoot his Bloom in the fucking face. But in choosing NYC 2000 for his city and making his protagonist an android dotcom business hero, DeLillo really sows the seeds of his own, because dude, we remember 2000 and it was not 1985. Your perfect Aryan Masters-of-the-Universe types were and are still around, no doubt, but they were not personally relevant any more to the culture. I mean, they still read (and still do read) GQ, which liked this book big shocker, but the central figure of the dotcom era is SO OBVS not the hedge-fund manager/currency-trader/subprime-lender archetype but the good old Nerd. And so Packer has to be the captain of industry (or, let's say it, the jock) AND the nerd, and it doesn't work. DeLillo wants to talk about acceleration and information overload, and he needs a geek savant type for that, but he also seems to want to restage American Psycho, and the two can't coexist in one body or one book. So you can take Packer as metaphor for the sleek hot chassis of the era, and the focus on the WTO protests would make sense then, and him being how he is would make sense even though it doesn't make sense. But then you get into how nobody talks like this - New Yorkers, am I out to lunch here? - except for a couple of TV mobsters, and in this book everybody talks like this. And when it's Packer you can't help but think about how many Aspergery geeks with a mind for figures and a capitalist mien would imagine themselves, in a perfect world (i.e., 2000 dotcom boom forever), just like they are only buff and rich and oversexed and being a dick to everybody with their weird sub-David Mamet brass-balls bullshit. But then everybody else talks that way too, or the women just replace the balls with nonsequiturs, and you're like, shit, dude, there is, I am told, an art to dialogue - attempt to practice it. This is all just empty shallow and handjobbery for greedy bastards, many of them still with chips on shoulders from being geeks in high school, many with nice hair but intrigued by the promise of some indirect Information Age gravitas, all salivating to believe the're on the front lines of the future. And DeLillo seems to think that's as fucked up as I do, actually, but he sure spends a lot of time coming on like it's kind of sexy too. And I'm with the protesters: it's fucking not.
  • (5/5)
    The whole book is about the protagonist Eric Packer being driven through town, through traffic jams, mostly standing still, while inviting people into his limo, talking to his ex wife through the side window while she is stuck in traffic in the opposite direction. A very remarkable novel. Despite the fact that the action seems to be boring, once you read you an't stop. Delillo has a very convincing style of writing, the reading itself makes the novel fun to read. After you read this, read Underworld.
  • (3/5)
    Cosmopolis is short enough to be a novella. It concerns a day in the life of Eric Packer, a billionaire asset manager, as he is chauffered from his forty-eight room penthouse across the city for a haircut. The chronicle narrates how his journey is interrrupted by a presedential motorcade, a rapper's funeral, cladestine sexual trysts, an encounter with his new wife, a movie set, a violent political demonstration and an assassin seeking to kill him. It might have been a better day to stay in bed.-Packer muses on the city and society. In some ways the book has parallels with McEwan's Saturday in that the main thrust of action concerns an everyday car journey, the main character is rich and favoured and both books are short and attracted mixed reviews.-For a heavyweight writer such as DeLillo I think there is always the temptation to dismiss a short piece as a sketch in preparation for a magnus opus. I've started reading Underworld, and Cosmopolis would practically fit into it's opening baseball game scene.-Still, one advantage runs from not having six hundred pages to devour until you can pick up another author and get a different flavour in your mouth and I enjoyed Cosmopolis a lot.
  • (4/5)
    A limo ride that reads like a hallucinatory trance or a dream sequence. Start's strongly by setting up the solipsism of a 28-year old billionaire asset manager, then falls into a less interesting lull as an anarchist uprising is described including rappelling down walls, rocking limos, a bomb thrown into a bank, etc. Typical street-protest, action-novel crap that's not particularly gripping. The narrator eventually comes to the same conclusion leading to further considerations of how to truly leave a mark on society. Other characters are metaphors more than people as they fall neatly into place in order to allow Delillo to make his points about art, sexuality, control, psychosis, death, intentions and their impact, poverty, love, etc. Delillo's talented wordplay and imagination make this an entertaining read that is ultimately as insubstantial as a dream.
  • (3/5)
    Not one of Delillo's best. This book reads like a top pop fiction book at best. Some of the idea here are on the brink of literary, but they come up short. In the end this feels like a Brent Easton Ellis novel not a Delillo novel.
  • (4/5)
    very "modern" -- not sure delillo is for me. fear and loathing with less interest. currency trader -- master of the universe -- loses everything and "finds" intimacy with his wife and then murdered -- or is he -- vacuous personality -- no heart, no charity -- bleak novel
  • (3/5)
    It was overdone and kitschy. It had a few things going for it like the premise, and occasional good dark humour, and a strikingly befitting metaphor from time to time. The whole story takes place in New York in the space of one afternoon as a fabulously rich 28 year old asset manager is in his luxurious limo on his way to get a haircut. Moving very slowly through the traffic jam, he receives many people in his limo including his financial advisors and a doctor who examines his prostate. He occasionally leaves the car to have sex or to get something to eat, or to meet his wife, always by chance. The limo is travelling very slowly through the New York City, and it encounters a presidential cavalcade, a funeral procession and a violent protest. All at the same time Eric- the main character- is speculating on the money market from the depths of his car, and starting to lose big sums of money. The idea is interesting, but the execution brushes with kitsch just tad too much. If it was the intention of the author to show the meaninglessness and kitschiness of life of so rich that it becomes meaninglessly rich, he exceeded his own expectations and created the story which became kitschy itself. This has been my second book by DeLillo. I still have to read something that will live up to his reputation.
  • (4/5)
    I had never read much of Delillo until my interest perked up watching him on C-Span (on the Pen sponsored event against the Patriot act and censorship) reading Zbigniew Herbert's 'Report from the besieged City'. A great poem and it gave me the impetus to look into Delillo a little more deeply. The epigraph to 'Cosmopolis' is from the same poem--'and a rat became the unit of currency'. How apt in these times--at least I believe so--when profits from the corporate world more often than not are made from chasing figures on papers--debits and credits--around the globe--and more or less this is the way in which I took the basic theme of the book. The books somewhat hedonistic soulless main charachter Eric Packer has 2 missions as he begins his day. To go out and get a haircut and to stake his billions against the yen. Along his journey he has numerous sexual encounters. Demonstrations are taking place in the street as a Presidential motorcade blocks off major parts of the city as he rolls along in his limo like a general on a battlefield taking or discarding the financial advice of a host of advisers. The action of the book has a somewhat haphazard feel to it almost like a camera turning one street corner to another discovering scenes that do not altogether relate to each other. In the end everything collapses for Eric who is disconnected pretty much from the rest of the human race. He sits facing indifferently a man who has come to kill him.