Thursday, July 29, 2010
Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo
What follows is a very strange tale as we get to know Eric and his world a whole lot better. The limo itself is marble floored and cork lined (to keep out the traffic noise) and houses a mind boggling array of screens which display market and currency information. Different employees and advisors pop in and out of the limo to discuss business with Eric. Eric also keeps his daily doctor's appointment with his doctor in the back of his limo. You see for all of Eric's narcissistic brilliance he is paranoid about his health and subjects himself to a daily prostate examination. I told you this was a weird one! And that is only the beginning.
Eric alights from the limo at various times during the day for meals and apparently random sexual hook ups, sometimes with his new wife and sometimes with other of his female associates. The guy has some stamina. While all of this is happening, Manhattan has virtually shut down due to violent anti capitalist protests and the large scale funeral of a much celebrated Sufi rapper. Eric's body guards are also highly tensed because there have been reports of a credible threat on Eric's life. Yes, it is seriously all happening in this book.
As I said earlier I really like DeLillo's writing. He has a truly beautiful and unique writing style that is deceptively simple and full of movement. DeLillo also uses some interesting literary devices in this novel that I enjoyed. The image of rats recurs throughout the novel. The rat appears to symbolise the whole flow and mood of the story. Again it is odd but effective. There is a constant hinting at redundancy of things and concepts and this too reveals itself to be very significant for Eric who has built his fortune on anticipating what is going to be relevant next. It would seem this has become his undoing as now everything feels passe to him and without meaning.
But by the end I was disappointed. I think partially because the character of Eric is so unlikable and implausible and partially because this epic, kaleidoscopic montage of a day doesn't really seem to mean all that much once it reaches its grim and dramatic conclusion. I was also disappointed because I enjoyed DeLillo's The Body Artist very much. The Body Artist comes together as a glorious whole and I found I could really engage with it. Cosmopolis,while I found worth reading for the expert writing, left me wanting. I couldn't engage with the outlandish characters and found it altogether too unreal and grim.