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.