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Now a Major Motion Picture: Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo

Now a Major Motion Picture: Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo

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3.1

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Published by Simon and Schuster
Now a Major Motion Picture directed by David Cronenberg and starring Robert Pattinson.

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.
Now a Major Motion Picture directed by David Cronenberg and starring Robert Pattinson.

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.

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Publish date: Mar 30, 2004
Added to Scribd: May 24, 2012
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Activity (37)

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hadriantheblind reviewed this
Rated 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.
evanroskos_1 reviewed this
Rated 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.
disquiet_1 reviewed this
Read this for the third time this weekend -- well, finished for the third time; took it real slow this time around. Cosmopolis is the second of the now four short novels that Don DeLillo has published since his massive Underworld. I have a theory on how the four work together that I've been working on, in the form of a short essay (about how all the novels are intended to investigate challenges to the primacy of the written word), and this read was to focus on supporting the thesis.

The story is about a wealthy Wall Street guy making his way across town in a white limo, observing the markets and pleasing himself while lingering threats get closer and closer.

The first half is worth reading, even if it can seem like Jay McInerney riffing on Nicholson Baker, or maybe the other way around -- Manhattan high-end social-strata observation occurring in a super-slo-mo, hyper-detailed mode.

The second half, when the threat becomes more real, is less effective. The threat is simply much more interesting when it's just a threat. That's sort of the point of the book, too, but it almost proves it too well by ending on one long denouement.
eyejaybee reviewed this
Rated 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.
ifionlyhada reviewed this
Rated 3/5
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.
thetwods reviewed this
Rated 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.
sallowswine reviewed this
Rated 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.
petroglyph_1 reviewed this
Rated 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.
traciolsen reviewed this
Rated 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. ;)
jeffome reviewed this
Rated 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.

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