The Story

Cosmopolis is Don DeLillo‘s thirteenth novel. It was published by Scribner on 14 April 2003.

Cosmopolis is the story of Eric Packer, a 28 year old multi-billionaire asset manager who makes an odyssey across midtown Manhattan in order to get a haircut. The stretch limo which adorns the cover of the book is richly described as highly technical and very luxurious, filled with television screens and computer monitors, bulletproofed and floored with Carrara marble. It is also cork lined to eliminate (though unsuccessfully, Packer notes) the intrusion of street noise.

source

An excerpt from a critique of Cosmopolis at bookforum.com

*MAJOR PLOT SPOILER WARNING*

“You live in a tower that soars to heaven and goes unpunished by God,” one of his advisers tells Eric Packer, twenty-eight-year-old self-made stocks billionaire and the novel’s doomed but curiously inert protagonist. As the verb form indicates, it is the tower, and not Packer, that has unaccountably evaded divine retribution. As always with DeLillo, the urban landscape is as much a character as any of the people in the novel, like a living organism, shivering with pent-up energy and violent desires, and as deserving as they are of praise or punishment.

The adviser, Vija Kinski, Packer’s “chief of theory” and genius ideas woman, finds funny the thought of Packer and his inviolate $104 million penthouse, and, not for the first time in the course of this dystopian work, the reader wonders if perhaps it is to be read as a comedy before anything else. Certainly the things that happen, horrendous as they are, at one point a man burns himself to death on the sidewalk, Vietnamese-monk style, in the midst of an anticapitalist protest, hint at a muffled, hectic hilarity. Like the drifting cloud of toxic chemicals in White Noise, the self-immolation and the riot happening around it occur in an atmosphere suggestive of Bakhtinian carnival.

Packer is traveling across town in his custom-built white stretch limo, on his way, we are told, to get a haircut. The car is equipped with every conceivable, and many inconceivable, devices for the comfort and care of its owner; in one of the book’s small, inspired jokes, the vehicle’s interior has been “prousted,” that is, cork-lined. As the limo moves at an “inchworm creep” through the daylong gridlock, the president’s motorcade is in town, and there is a bomb explosion, a water-main break, and lavish anarchist violence, not to mention a “credible threat” to Packer’s life, he is visited in the backseat by several of his advisers and carers, who simply step off the street and into the gridlocked car. As well as Vija Kinski (Packer’s chief of theory), there are his currency analyst, Michael Chin; his chief of finance, Jane Melman, whom, incidentally, he causes to have an orgasm merely by talking dirty; and his doctor. Packer has been speculating massively in the yen and stands to lose his entire fortune if it does not stop rising. Melman tells him he should ease off, retrench, but he is as far gone as any Old World gambler betting everything on one last throw as dawn comes up over the Côte d’Azur, and with the same inevitable result.

The end of the book is, as one would expect, apocalyptic. Packer, having casually lost his money and as casually killed a man, comes at dead of night upon an outdoor film set on which hundreds of naked extras are lying in the street under the arc lamps, pretending to be corpses. Packer, who by now has come to see himself as one of the walking dead, takes off his clothes and joins them. Beside him, her face pressed into the asphalt, is, you guessed it, his wife, to whom, after the cameras have stopped rolling, he makes highly gratifying love, for the first time in their marriage, as it happens. Then she wanders off into the night, and he goes to meet his nemesis. Just another ordinary urban disaster.

 

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20 Responses to The Story

  1. Wow. Wow. WOW! Marina, the site is stunning!!!

    Deb and Tink, I am beyond thrilled that you have set this up so we can ride in the limo with you. You already know I’m a huge fan of your other sites. Thank you…again…for all your hard work and dedication.

    So do we have a name for Rob’s new character yet? (Robward, Tybert, DuRob, Robowski)

    XO

    Lisa

  2. Thanks, Deb. Love it and will add it to my sidebar 🙂

  3. KittyC says:

    Wow! This character is Fifty Shades!!!!! I absolutely believe that RPatz can do this role and I can’t wait. It will be just like bringing Master of the Universe to life, with somewhat different outcomes! Think about the incredible video Biel will be able to make with this footage! I am so psyched!!!! Now if KStew would do a sophisticated role, Biel could really do something spectacular for us!!!!!

  4. MMM says:

    I read Cosmopolis book and lol this site makes Eric Packer to be a romantic guy and romantic story, in which he is not. I don’t blame you guys for getting excited about suits? lol! Rob does look yummy in them. And the limo (in which is actually a curse for Eric Packer) will lead him more than what he bargains for(not good). Prepare yourself because this will break the Edward Cullen/Twilight typecasting FINALLY. And Eric Packer is far form 50 shades(read that too). At least 50 is described as sophisticated. 50 shades looks like a kindergardener romp compared to Cosmopolis. It is however, about the reflection/ internal confrontation of the corrupt soul-doesn’t necessarily mean redemption either, greed with a twist of mystery. I can’t wait for this because it will free him from being typecast a romantic brooding character which is overkill until Bel Ami and Cosmopolis. He will finally be able to expand his acting ability at last!

  5. Burntcore says:

    OMG – srsly, someone actually said Eric Packer is like the Edward from MOTU? Srsly? Just because he’s rich and has a limo?

    I certainly hope people actually READ the book and see what a different character Eric Packer is from [i]anything[/i] even remotely Twilight-esque or from fanfiction.

    Wow. I’m still agast.

    I hope the film does the book justice. I look forward to seeing Robert in roles that really display his acting ability and not so much his ability to stare into the camera with his ‘broody’ face.

    • deb24601 says:

      OMG srsly, someone did! Actually, lots of people did. At first. People tend to assimilate new things by relating them to things they already know. So yeah, grown up Robert Pattinson fans often read fanfiction and made a connection with the first few pages. I thought the first few pages were quite Master of the Universe-ish myself. So as far as intial reactions go, yeah, many people initially got a Fifty vibe. We talked about that briefly. After reading further of course the book is revealed to be something very different and we had numerous discussions that had nothing to do with Fifty whatsoever. Some great discussion can be located in the tab for The Discussion.

      I’m sure David Cronenberg has things under control. Whether he chooses to remain true to the book or not, the movie is his vision and we are thrilled for Rob to be playing Eric Packer.

      Have fun and welcome to the limo…
      P.S. Rob gave an interview where he refered to Eric Packer as a “Master of the Universe” type. Guess it happens to the best of us. 😉

    • mmm says:

      Yeah, when I saw (MOTU) comment I was like what? And that is the perception from many of the others sites who really have not read Cosmopolis. That is why I like this site so much. It’s not fanatical(sorry moderators-but I’ve seen doozies). This is the only site that I post. It’s professionally done and intelligent. I am grateful I stumbled here because it’s highly organized. There’s a sense of balance and because moderators and fans (who actually read the book) can really provide and share in depth analogies and perceptions about the characters, especially when some concepts can be hard to decipher. I love the fact this site can visualize Rob’s new character beyond just a handsome and broody face. And I think that is what he wants. Go to their discussion boards especially the reading group. It sure help me understand portions of the book that I couldn’t comprehend. I wish other sites were like this. oh well.

      • tinkrbe1l3 says:

        i REALLY appreciate your comment. a couple days ago, some hate was brought to our attention and it was frustrating. we work hard to keep this site informative and neutral. we’re glad you notice our efforts. we’re fans of Rob so we support his career but we also support all involved with this film. thanks again and when i get a bit discouraged, i’ll come back here and read your thoughtful words.

        • mmm says:

          I’m just being honest =). I too am a huge Pattinson supporter, believe in his work and a fan. You and your colleagues hard work is definitely paying off and I am grateful. And I am sure this site is getting tremendous recognition and respect.

          • deb24601 says:

            Thank you! Like Tink said, we’ve kind of felt under siege lately so we’re glad you like what we’re doing. 🙂

            • mmm says:

              Your welcome. You all are probably tired lately by protecting this site especially now that he started to film Cosmopolis. But know that you’re helping him build his professional integrity.

      • burntcore says:

        I wholeheartedly agree on all your points. This site is definitely more specific to the movie, the book, and all the people involved… there are plenty of sites devoted to Rob’s personal life and gossip. It is nice to have a place that is devote to the art.

        I did want to comment on something deb said about one of Rob’s interviews… the comment where he said he saw Eric Packer as a master of the universe type… I’m thinking he meant more that Eric thought he was in control of his world, not so much that he was like the Edward in the fanfic MOTU. I believe I’ve heard this interview, and the Fifty-fanatics took it to mean Rob was referring to the fanfic. I do not believe this was the case.

        Anyway – great job with this site and keeping it about what it’s supposed to be about: the movie, those involved with it, and the discussions by the fans of both.

        • deb24601 says:

          Well sure, I was being cheeky with that quote. I have no way of knowing what particular work of fiction Rob was really referring to… I think he was speaking gemerally… lol

          Thanks for your nice words about the site. It’s gonna be a fun ride in the limo! 😉

          • burntcore says:

            I certainly agree, I believe it was more of a general statement… there just have been too many instances of the MOTU fanatics going gaga about that quote, and just anything really that they can associate with MOTU. It drives me nuts.

            🙂

  6. Bettybmusing says:

    Wow it’s really nice to see so many party additions to the Limo. 😀

    Yes, I also appreciate the professionalism shown on this site. Always a pleasure to visit and indulge in some witty creative fun. Robert is looking like a man ready to………

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