Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review: Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo

A book that never really grabs you by the throat, but definitely leaves scratch marks after you're done reading it. A book that never really feels like a wonderful, interesting read, but nevertheless, you feel like you're gaining so much for simply reading it. A book that to some people felt like 9/11 premonition. Don DeLillo's Cosmopolis.

The story is easy. Set in one day, it follows a rogue capitalist, Eric Packer, on an Odyssey around New York City. He spends most of the book in his limousine, which serves as his office, his medical examination room and his house. He meets a variety of characters, including his associates, his doctor, his wife and his lover, none of which are very interesting. He witnesses a protest. He contemplates about linguistics, literature and the modern world. And then the ending happens.

To those interested in plot lines, fascinating characters and emotional roller-coasters that many novels offer, stay away from Cosmopolis. It lacks a natural plot, the characters are even less than archetypes and the whole experience is decidedly frigid. On the other hand, if musings about the nature of space and time are your thing, if you think you'd enjoy a clever rant on the philosophy of capitalism disguised within capitalism itself, then by all means get this book.

I certainly appreciated the many things Cosmopolis had to offer. The nature of language that DeLillo talks about, for example, rang completely true for me. Why use the word 'skyscraper', he muses, if the very notion of a skyscraper is that of another time. The word should retire, just as taller buildings have made skyscrapers obsolete. It's similar with society, he implies. A simple ride to the barbershop, something that seems so obviously quaint in the universe of Cosmopolis, must end tragically, as it is definitely a thing of the past. The vision of the world in Cosmopolis is far from peachy.

I could never honestly recommend this book to anyone, but I do recommend you try and read it for what it's worth. And if you like it, if you see yourself responding to the massive ideas that DeLillo throws your way, Cosmopolis is a great place to start exploring such concepts as hyper reality, chaos theory, creation of space, rogue capitalism, etc.

Plus, there is a Robert Pattinson movie adaptation in the works.



Melissa (My World...in words and pages) said...

Hmmm... interesting. Thanks for the review. This is a book I don't think I would have ever heard of if you hadn't reviewed it. Thank you.

PattisPages said...

My sentiments exactly, and the movie is not getting rave reviews, either. I'd like to see it, though, just to find out how they handled all the action taking place in a limo.