ISBN: 0743244257
ISBN 13: 9780743244251
By: Don DeLillo

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About this book

It is an April day in the year 2000 and an era is about to end -- those booming times of market optimism when the culture boiled with money and corporations seemed more vital and influential than governments.Eric Packer, a billionaire asset manager at age twenty-eight, emerges from his penthouse triplex and settles into his lavishly customized white stretch limousine. On this day he is a man with two missions: to pursue a cataclysmic bet against the yen and to get a haircut across town.His journey to the barbershop is a contemporary odyssey, funny and fast-moving. Stalled in traffic by a presidential motorcade, a music idol's funeral and a violent political demonstration, Eric receives a string of visitors -- his experts on security, technology, currency, finance and theory. Sometimes he leaves the car for sexual encounters and sometimes he doesn't have to.Cosmopolis, Don DeLillo's thirteenth novel, is both intimate and global, a vivid and moving account of a spectacular downfall.“DeLillo’s most affecting novel yet...A dazzling, phosphorescent work of art.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times“The clearest vision yet of what it felt like to live through that day.” —Malcolm Jones, Newsweek“A metaphysical ghost story about a woman alone…intimate, spare, exquisite.” —Adam Begley, The New York Times Book Review“A brilliant new novel....Don DeLillo continues to think about the modern world in language and images as quizzically beautiful as any writer.” — San Francisco Chronicle

Reader's Thoughts

Michael Seidlinger

What? Huh? Okay?These are not indications of confusion. I completely absorbed Cosmopolis and experienced every facet of the near-novella. Given that, I must question the entire purpose of this piece. It certainly provides an ample-enough lens for American excess, disaffection, and dislocation... but I'm not sure it goes anywhere beyond the "image" of this particular portrayal.I need a haircut too... but unlike the rich, I either cut it myself or drive the 1.2 miles to a Hair Cuttery and make it happen.

Tom Bensley

No, Don DeLillo. I'm not going to give you four stars just because this is a brilliantly written, prophetic and philosophical piece of literature. Yes, there are some quotes and sentences here that I will store in my mind and remember for years. Yes, your prose can be poetic and breathtaking. And yes, this is a highly original work. But you get two stars. And you know why? Because all that great stuff I just mentioned? YOU'RE RAMMING IT DOWN MY THROAT!Cosmopolis tells the story of a rich young man named Eric Packer and his self-destruction. He rides around in a limo, fucks people, observes a riot through his sun roof and talks, talks, talks. The story itself isn't particularly compelling, but Eric Packer is. He's mysterious, uber-intelligent and a total ass. His compelling nature is in his hints at trying to destroying himself. He relishes in seeing the riot so close to his limo, he feels energised when he gets hit in the face with a camera and he loses parts of his fancy suit all over the place. Why is he doing this to himself? What is Eric Packer really like? What will he become? Where will his limo end up? And where will he? These questions drove me to finish the novel, making it worthwhile. But back to my major criticism of the work: DeLillo is a brilliant writer. No doubt. But I don't like him. The novel is full of ultra-profound statements flowery descriptions of mundane actions and the pages seem to sweat with philosophy. My problem with all that, is that I don't enjoy thinking to myself, "Yes, Mr. DeLillo, I see what you have done there, excuse me while I place the book down and applaud softly with an approving eyebrow-raise". The characters are too clearly representational figures and the actions so obviously symbolic that it just becomes exhausting after a while. So, if you don't mind books that are obvious in many of their messages, and you want something nightmarish, cold, philosophical and intellectual, then go ahead and rock Cosmopolis. It's great, just not for me.

Sarah Funke

Liked this a ton. Very spare writing, even for DD, so unencumbered by simile and metaphor, so beautiful and crisp and sharp and rhythmic, that you have to read a lot of it twice to understand it. Plenty of the usual quotable wisdom; some stunning passages, and terrific juxtapositions. A great representative paragraph:"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." (p.9) One of the many little bits I just love: "If you knew the man ten years, it might take you all that time to notice he did not wear glasses" (p. 53) Stuff about eye contact and brushing against people in pedestrian traffic (p. 66). "To know and not to act is not to know" (p. 85). TDF booth line filled with the only people not reacting to a huge crisis in Times Square. Hilarious. "I was a kid and a little pedantic but I still maintain I had a point" (p. 184). Obvious structural parallels with Joyce of course and an unplanned, I'm sure, nod to Woolf: the artistry of the protagonist who wants to move people around, no matter the drama of the context, to catch the light in a certain way. In addition to all this -- this craft and beauty and wit and intelligence -- he predicted the financial crisis (his financial manager protagonist is warned that he is "speculating into the void") and also predicts what my friend Alison Fraser has referred to as "the death of death" created by electronic media. He uses words that shouldn't, really, be used any more -- like "satchel" -- but comments on others that are much harder to call, like "telephone," and "vestibule, if this is still a word." And then there are all the words he's dug out of I don't know where, like "slub," for example.


** spoiler alert ** After struggling through Cosmopolis: A Novel by Don DeLillo for over a year, I am very happy to report that I’ve finished reading it. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. Okay, that’s a lie. I know exactly how I feel; I’m just too nice to say it.Now, I admit that I only read this book because Robert Pattinson is in the movie version, which is coming out later this year. And I really don’t care that I thought it was kind of terrible, because as long as I have an excuse to sit in a theater for a couple hours and stare at him in a role other than a pasty vampire who does (or does not as the case may sometimes be) sparkle, my inner fangirl will be happy.In all honestly, though, the upcoming movie is not the reason I finished the book. After all, I only got two chapters in to Bel Ami, another book-to-movie adaptation coming out this year that Pattinson stars in, before I called it quits. So then why did I keep reading? you ask. Well, because I was fairly positive at some point there would be an eye-opening “Oh, now I get it!” moment and the entire novel would become clear to me. Yeah, that didn’t really happen.At all.I scratched my head until the very end. And when it was over, I’m pretty sure I gasped out a “Huh?” as I was busting my ass on the stair machine. I just . . . I don’t know. I don’t even have words for this book. It made about as much sense as the dreams I have on any given night. How they made it into a movie, I can’t even imagine. Aside from not making sense, it’s all very stream of consciousness. There’s a lot of thinking (weird thinking), and the sparse dialog that exists read very choppy and unnatural to me. It was also a struggle to figure out who was talking at times. I want to believe it’s because I had a janky electronic copy and the paragraphs got messed up and dialog tags went missing, but something tells me that’s not the case.There is, however, a positive side to having read the book: I won’t walk out of the theater thinking what the f*** just happened? Also, I’ll be prepared for the WTF scenes, like the rectal exam and the water bottle. And the ending. This is one of those rare cases where I don’t think the book will help the movie make sense, but at least I can go into it knowing that I’m not going to understand anything, and I can put more effort into ogling The Pretty.Someone on Twitter said they saw the trailer and were left completely confused. I replied by saying I read the book and I’m just as confused.


En ‘Cosmópolis’ asistimos durante un día a la vida de un perdedor, Eric Packer. Lo curioso es que Eric es un multimillonario dedicado a las altas finanzas, que pese a su juventud, lo tiene todo, siendo además de los que deciden el futuro de otros mediante sus inversiones y especulaciones. En este día en concreto, Eric se levanta por la mañana con dos ideas en la cabeza: arriesgar todo su dinero a que el yen japonés no subirá, y cortarse el pelo.Durante esta larga jornada, Eric viajará en su limusina por toda Nueva York camino de su peluquero, encontrándose con múltiples personajes y situaciones. En su amplia limusina tienen lugar los encuentros más dispares, ya que parece que Eric tenga más vida en ella que en su propia casa. Pero Eric no viaja solo en su aventura joyceana, le acompañan varios guardaespaldas, y es que su vida está amenazada. Todo ello bajo el telón de fondo de la visita del presidente a la ciudad, el entierro de un conocido cantante, el rodaje de una película… que dificultan el viaje de la limusina entre el denso tráfico. Por cierto, que David Cronenberg está realizando la adaptación al cine de esta novela. El material se adapta a lo que ha sido hasta ahora su filmografía, pero ya veremos.‘Cosmópolis’ es una reflexión de los tiempos que corren, deshumanizada, donde DeLillo trata temas como el terrorismo, la globalización o la alienación del individuo, con un Eric Packer en su particular descenso a los infiernos, paranoico, inteligente, dominado por su ego, que tiene sexo cuando y donde quiere.La prosa de DeLillo es directa y lúcida, como siempre, capaz de dar en el clavo con cada una de sus observaciones. Pese a ello, DeLillo es un escritor que no llega a calarme del todo, pero aun así sus novelas siempre resultan interesantes y con grandes destellos de calidad. -He leído un poema en el que una rata se convierte en moneda de curso legal.-Pues sí, sería interesante –dijo Chin.-Desde luego. Tremendo impacto en la economía mundial.-Ya sólo por el nombre… Mucho mejor que el dong o la kwacha.-El nombre lo es todo.-Sí. La rata –dijo Chin.-Sí. Hoy la rata ha cerrado por debajo del euro.-Sí. Existe una preocupación creciente de que la rata rusa se devalúe.-Ratas blancas. Piénsalo.-Sí. Ratas preñadas.-Eso. Liquidación en masa de ratas rusas preñadas.-Gran Bretaña entra en la zona rata –dijo Chin.-Eso mismo. Se suma a la lógica tendencia de adoptar una única unidad de cambio universal.-Sí. Estados Unidos establece la unidad rata.-Eso. Cada dólar estadounidense será canjeable por su valor en ratas.-Ratas muertas.-Eso. El acopio de reservas de ratas muertas se tiene por una amenaza contra la salud mundial.


From this 2012 vantage point, Cosmopolis from 2003 seems dated like a horse and carriage. Bringing humanity to the wealthy is just not the fashion, and this spiritual awakening of Patrick Bateman was fun then, but weirdly irrelevant right now, in the era of the Pruis and the hostility towards the "1%." Although Eric was never really meant to be an everyman hero, he really really really is not one now. This book was fabulously written (hookers have "duck butts" as they leave for home in the morning), but the crash and burn of this wealthy all-knowing rich fellow is just meh. The audience is not me, perhaps, as women are (as always) reduced to allegory and sex acts, exclusively. I couldn't feel the feelings. And to address the movie, Cronenberg is giving this whole thing a weird approach. The trailer for the film makes it look a Bourne movie, not really a hyper-emotional thinker. Titties, gunfire, and riots; these are things that don't really punctuate the plot of the book. Yes, college-aged fanboys and R Patz diehards will attend and pick up the book in masses. But how boring! A rich person's crazy adventure! This is "Baby's Day Out" for a new generation of men!

Simon Cleveland

"Cosmopolis" by Don DeLillo is a story about the powers of greed, lust and revenge as seen through the eyes of post-modern nostalgia and technology obsession. Written in DeLillo's characteristically poetic and often harmonic lyrical tone, the story is wrapped up in certain sadness and longing after the basic human emotions lost in a society stricken by the plague of information technology, heartless bits of 1's and 0's, media driven global financial markets and of course the demonic obsession with money. The pages seem soaked in this cold blue neon light of radiating motion, of brutal cause and effect relationships, of sorrowful physiological weaknesses. At the center sits a powerful yet uncharacteristically young broker who proceeds to gamble away his fortune against the movements of the Japanese yen (against his instincts and nature) from the comfort of his mobile office (his limousine). The book is worth exploring, if not for the story, for its honest and open narrative that does not cringe or retract when exposing the shameful but realistic qualities of the human physique. I recommend this book for those readers who are interested in DeLillo's unforgettable language talent.


Nutshell: one-percenter gets haircut, an event worthy of 200 pages.The less looney toons sibling of American Psycho (“the logical extension of business is murder“ (113)), this text, contrary to my intentions, was not necessarily the correct one to brainbleach the Ayn Rands that I’d read immediately prior hereto--though her mantra regarding self-made industrialists, who nevertheless are heirs to massive fortunes, is given mock heroic treatment here as “self made,” “ruthless,” “strong,” “brilliant” (72).Slick colloquy on chrematistics, “the art of money-making” (77), an odd phrase, as though currency were created ex nihilo, in a randian fantasy, by the mere intellect of the industrialist. Therein we see that “money has lost its narrative quality” (id.), which readers of Marx will recognize as the always already absent presence of repressed political relations inherent in currency, via operation of commodity fetishism. We see that “clock time accelerated the rise of capitalism“ (79), and “it’s cyber-capital that creates the future” via transactions at intervals of yoctoseconds (79): “time is a corporate asset now. It belongs to the free market system. The present is harder to find. It is being sucked out of the world to make way for the future of uncontrolled markets and huge investment potential” (id.). Part of the process is the integration of protests against capitalism into its structure: protesters “don’t exist outside the market. There is nowhere they can go to be on the outside. There is no outside” (90). The protest itself is a “form of systemic hygiene, purging and lubricating” (99). When a protestor intentionally self-immolates, dumb cappy grover dill can only complain “it’s not original,” “an appropriation” (100)--a nice emblem of the proto-fascism described by Herf in Reactionary Modernism regarding insistent “authenticity,” which emblem reiterates here: “To pull back now would not be authentic. It would be a quotation from other people’s lives” (85).Noted as “the hallmark of capitalist thought” is “enforced destruction” (92), a spectre from Benjamin’s ninth thesis on the philosophy of history: “old industries have to be harshly eliminated. New markets have to be forcibly claimed. Old markets have to be re-exploited. Destroy the past, make the future,” apt reference to capitalism’s continuous process of revolutionizing the means of production (92-93). Recommended for persons undead living in a state of occult repose, waiting to be reanimated, those driven by thinking machines that they have no final authority over, and persons with asymmetrical prostates.


الرواية فى نقد الرأسمالية وحضارة التكنولوجيا الرقمية فى عماءها، والتضخم الهزلى والمتسارع للثروة لمجرد حيازة أكبر نسبة من الأرقام بعيدا عن قيمتها المادية ولكن القيمة المعنوية التى تعطى السلطة لحاملهاقرأتها بترجمة "أسامة منزلجى" والتى لم أجد أى بيانات لها فى طبعة عربية، وأظن أنها نشرت إلكترونيا مسلسلة فى مجلة "أوكسجين" الإلكترونية..وهذا رابط البى دى اف:علما بأن الرواية تحوّلت إلى فيلم هذا العام ينتظر عرضه فى سبتمبر من إخراج المخرج الكندى ديفيد كروننبرج


Finished this today, and left mostly with a feeling of uncertainty. A remarkable book in some ways - the prose is like the edge of a broken wine glass, some of the philosophical ideas are undoubtedly fascinating, and the crawling, laboured and doggedly unswerving way in which the novel moves through the city is mirrored by the experience of reading it (which sounds negative, but it works beautifully). On the other hand, the set pieces are sometimes far-fetched (the prostate exam and its literal climax being one, the final meeting being another), and the dialogue is often artificial. Possibly intentional, but it comes across as trying too hard.The last image of the watch, though, and the image it contains... Perfect. Set up expertly, earlier on in the novel, with the screens in the limo. In that image (which I won't ruin, but it plays with time in a way that reminds me of McEwan's The Child in Time), the novel's central conceit is brilliantly put forth; we can see where we are headed. If we accept it as inevitable, that is where we will find our ending.


DeLillo's prose is beautiful, accessible and riddled with insight. Unfortunately, the merits of his prose work against plot in Cosmopolis. There's something to be said for authors who can write an entire book about a rich man stuck in traffic. On one hand, you have to respect DeLillo for his ability to infuse the mundane with such beauty and elegance. On the other hand, who gives a shit about a rich asshole who is so stubborn that he insists on crawling at a snail's pace through traffic to get a haircut?I read Cosmopolis a few years after reading Byron's Manfred. These two texts compliment one another quite nicely. If you read Cosmopolis as a narrative about a man who runs into mystical spirits disguised as people, each of which engages the protagonist in some life-altering discourse, then Cosmopolis isn't too bad. I think drawing parallels between the two is the one thing that kept me reading Cosmopolis.But if you pick up Cosmopolis after reading a few of DeLillo's earlier works, you'll see a few themes repeated without any new ground being covered: isolation vs. immersion in society, loss of identity via conformity, etc. It's all touched upon, danced around, and dabbled in here. But Cosmopolis lacks the depth of DeLillo's previous endeavors. When it comes down to it, DeLillo is a writer's writer. If you feel like poetry has all but died in American culture, read DeLillo and you'll see it guised as prose. When it comes to language aesthetic, DeLillo ranks at the top of the list. If you're looking for one of the high watermarks of insight and social critique, you'll find just as much in DeLillo's work as you would in Walter Benjamin's. Pardon the minor digression, but reading Mao II in coordination with Benjamin, particularly Benjamin's "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" ranks as one of the best reading experiences I've had in quite some time.So this book wasn't my favorite, but it wasn't enough to make me stop reading DeLillo. I just know now that when I sit down to read his later works, I do it for different reasons than I used to when reading his earlier material.

Big Milton

I was hoping by page 24 that the protagonist of this novel would be dragged from his limousine and beaten by children with Tickle Me Elmo dolls loaded with bricks. And then we would never hear from him again. But that ain't what happened. Unfortunately. A terrible novel by a great writer.

Rhys Thomas

This novel portrays a very eventful day in the life of billionaire banker Eric Packer. Written in 2003, DeLillo's prescience is working overtime here, describing as he does the level of greed and narcissism present in today's psychopathic investment bankers. I had the distaste of spending a whole weekend with a character just like Eric Packer and DeLillo's portrayal is right on the nose. Here is a man utterly detached from compassion or empathy, so devoid of the emotions most humans experience as to make him non-human.As we follow him around New York in his limousine, watching anti-capitalist riots in pursuit of a hair cut we are offered no pat back story to explain how this man came into existence, rather being told that the reasons are inconsequential. It is the fact of his existence that's important. People like this just emerge from the capitalist system, is I think what the author is trying to say.The writing is as exquisite as you'd expect, the ideas always making you think. The characters are undoubtedly ciphers but in a novel of such short length it doesn't matter - you are engaged long enough for the ideas to percolate.If you hate bankers, this book will make you feel good, in a bad way. It's excellent.


an oil-and-water mix of brilliance and over-bearing allegory. the good outweighs the bad. it's amazing that this book was written in 2003, because it ever-so-slightly predates the apex of corporate-greed-entropy in america. it's hard not to see mark zuckerberg in eric packer, the 28-year-old billionaire at the heart of the story. his icy, semi-autistic demeanor, technological zealotry and fascination with the movement of capital calls to mind the facebook guru immediately (they're even the same age as i type this). in the same breath, i'm also reminded of the 2008 financial crisis as packer's downfall unravels... not so much because it's a tragedy, but because it's the logical endgame of a vicious circle of privilege, where the very wealthy get wealthier by moving around other people's money. delillo seems horrified and fascinated by this, and he's quite good at laying out the odd fantasies that produce an eric packer - as well as the culture that's too complicit and solipsistic to bump him off of the gravy train. there's a particularly fatalistic passage in which packer's limo glides through an anarchist uprising that characterizes this perfectly. i'm excited to see what david cronenberg does with it on film. "team edward" could be a smart casting move after all...on the other hand, not all of it works. and parts of cosmopolis feel like an endless string of unlikely non-sequiturs. there's a digression involving a sufi rap star that's almost embarrassingly misguided (delillo has many strengths; inventing rap lyrics isn't one of them), and some of the metaphorical maneuvers are annoyingly self-conscious. but i finished it with plenty of thoughts to untangle in my head, so the bumpy ride was certainly worth it.


Eric Packer has a 48-room spread complete with a lap pool, shark tank and screening room. His is one in the line of nondescript white limousines parked out in front of the building. The floor of his ride is made of imported marble. It has a bathroom and enough space for his daily rectal exam. He’s got a cartoonish load of money, his billions birthing billions. What he needs, in Don Delillo’s novel “Cosmopolis,” is a haircut. It’s the spring of 2000, but 2000 is tilted to something more futuristic. A hyper-now with more screens and surveillance and news in real-time. The story tracks Parker through less than a day as his driver inches through traffic -- the president is in town, there are demonstrations and a spontaneous parade for a dead rapper -- toward the old-school barbershop. He’s got a new wife he barely recognizes. It’s been just more than 20 days and is yet unconsummated. She’s a poet, one of those rich-girl, Ivy League, poets. When he encounters her in traffic, outside a theater, in a bookstore, they adjourn to the nearest restaurant and learn things about each other. Like she has blue eyes and smokes. Hates that he smells like sex. (It’s the rectal exam, he tells her, or, it’s the peanuts I just ate). He’s also got an arty lover, one of those loft sorts, who gives him a tip on a Rothko. He doesn’t want the Rothko, he wants the Rothko Chapel, which includes 14 of his paintings. He’s not going to tear it down, rest assured, he’s going to keep it in his house. And during his daily car-call with a substitute doctor, he will have something so sexual it’s actually post-sexual, with a work colleague without ever touching her. Packer is watching fluctuations in the value of yen. As he tells one of the handful of consultants who will visit him in the back of the limo as he travels: He has borrowed yen at a low interest rate and is using the money to speculate heavily in stocks that could potentially bring in high returns. But the yen is getting stronger, which means he needs more and more money to pay back the loans. Every advisor is telling him to dump the yen, but Packer knows that will do little to itch his existential scratch. Whoa, is that thing flared. He feels the same way about bleeding himself into dumpster diving and abandoned building squatting as he does about the threat that has been made on his life: Invigorated. Alive. In search of post-rich fullness. That grey spot just off the cliff, that spot just beyond having everything is to have nothing -- a sentence that admittedly sounds like hooey except that I think I can see it and it looks like Wile E. Coyote spinning his wheels in mid-air.Eric Packer is a better writer’s version of Patrick Bateman, the attention-seeking pretty boy sadistic star of “American Psycho.” Minus, of course, the habitrail. Packer has a similar self-destruction intent, but none of the boarding school tantrums, which gives the satire more room to breathe. Don’t get me wrong: He’s no golden boy and you certainly don’t want to make eye contact with him when the doc dons the rubber gloves. His conversations, however, are exactly the kind of thing you want to overhear while dining at the next table over. Despite being a short book, this one calls for a slow wade. It is super delicious and vivid and funny in short fits and snorts. The sideways gem of the book is what is happening outside the window of our hero’s limo, when Delillo gets the chance to just kick it and write vivid descriptions of street scenes, collages of the neighborhoods and the people between here and the barbershop. It’s also only the second book in the past three years that I finished and immediately wanted to begin again. (The other being Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit From the Goon Squad.”)

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