Cosmopolis – Review

Every so often I like to immerse myself in a Don DeLillo novel. I don’t enjoy his work as much as many others seem to but it’s sometimes nice to read in the abstract rather than the concrete. Now, I don’t pretend to understand everything that DeLillo tries to say – claiming that you, like, totally get DeLillo is similar to claiming that you, like, totally get David Lynch – but it’s fun to see how much I manage.

My latest attempt was his novel Cosmopolis which focuses on one day in the life of the sinfully wealthy Eric Packer (who in my head looks like Nathan Petrelli from Hereos) as he negotiates a busy and distracted New York in search of both a metaphorical and an actual haircut. As the day moves on (and Packer, ironically, doesn’t), we see our protagonist become more and more disillusioned with his life and unhappy with his material possessions, until he loses his fortune (and his wife’s) by betting on the yen in the stock market. By losing everything, he’s finally liberated and able to find himself again. The closing scene reveals that for all of Packer’s power and presence, his fate is not even his own to decide.

At least I think that’s what it was. That’s what I took from it anyway and I was satisfied with that. The structure of Cosmopolis – a whole life in a single day – has been compared to Joyce’s Ulysses; but I’ve never been brave enough to read anything of Joyce’s that’s heavier than the Dubliners so I’ll leave that for you to decide. Cosmopolis is no White Noise but it certainly doesn’t let its author down.

Give it a go – it probably won’t let you down either.

15 responses to “Cosmopolis – Review

  1. I think it might be one of the biggest books l’ve read…second only to Anna Karenina… and i was getting a bit stressed at it for a time, but only becasue the people in it were being infuriating and ignoring something… i guess perhaps that’s a sign of a good book though..

  2. I know. I really should, and I’ve often meant to. It’s a rather daunting task at this stage, I have to say!

    I’ve also, shamefully, never read Crime and Punishment and it’s been on my to-read list for as long as I can remember.

  3. I’ve been meaning to start Crime and Punishment for oh, about eleven years now. I’m not even sure where my copy is now. I’m going to start on Dubliners after my latest Brookmyre though. I may even check out DeLillo since I spend so long on the tube most days!

  4. I really enjoyed it, although since Underworld is my favourite novel by a mile I guess I unfairly compared it to that and thought it was a bit short for Β£17.99 or whatever I paid when it came out. I’ve never read a bad sentence by him, although Ratner’s Star is a headfuck and about a million words too long.
    If you fancy it I’d recommend End Zone, which purports to be about a college (American) football team but isn’t in so many cool ways.

  5. Lola, me too but I know I won’t now unless I’m off sick for twenty months or something. And there’s always going to be something else I want to read instead. Try DeLillo out though – Underworld (as Mod says) or White Noise.

    Mod, you have a point about Underworld, but I think White Noise wins out for me. Cosmopolis for 18 English Pounds?! That’s too much for a hardback, even! I must read End Zone. Don’t you find DeLillo just a little bit pretentious, though?

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