Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo

Can I be entirely honest? I wasn’t really paying attention when I was reading this. Not only did nothing happen, I also kept getting distracted by Pokemon Go (Go Team Mystic) which probably tells you what I thought about ‘Cosmopolis’.

The entire 209 pages is dedicated to describing one day in the life of multi-billionaire Eric Packer as he drives through Manhattan to his barber. Traffic is slow due to the US President’s arrival and the funeral of a famous rapper clogging up the streets. Along the way, Eric Packer has sex with different women, and discusses business with multiple colleagues as his company collapses around him due to the rising yen, whilst learning that there is a credible threat on his life.

So in essence, this novel is more or less a commentary on American capitalism and nature of the economy that drives it, so it’s in the same vein as ‘American Psycho’ minus the violence.

The ultimate problem with this novel is that it’s not plot-driven or even character-driven; it’s idea-driven and the characters are only a vessel for DeLillo’s philosophical ideas. However, if a novel is going to be idea-driven, the characters that voice the opinions cannot be interchangeable and need to be interesting enough to sustain the ideas. There’s nothing special about Eric Packer, his employees or the multitude of women he sleeps with; they’re all pretty generic Manhattan characters.

Furthermore the ideas themselves aren’t that thought-provoking (for me anyway). There’s a lot of long-winded monologues on the intricate nature of symmetrical patterns and genius and capitalism and sex. I really did skim through this one and I honestly don’t even have the heart in me to flick through the pages for quotes.

The one thing I did like were the protesters rioting about the unequal spread of wealth which reminded me so much of the Occupy Movement, so it was very much a case of ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’.

I bought it for $2 so I’d say I didn’t waste it. I don’t know if I’d recommend for it or against it, I’m very much on the fence with this one because I can see its appeal and the intended demographic but I found it intensely un-relatable.

 

On Another Note

I’m a bit confused as to how they did a whole movie on this, considering that there was no actual plot line, although when I imagined Eric Packer, I did keep thinking of Robert Pattinson.

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