Confession...I decided to read this book because it is one of Robert Pattinson's upcoming projects and I have heard good things about the film which will be released sometime this year. Of course I had to read the book before even considering the movie because of my "Golden Rule" - always read the book before seeing the movie!
To tell the truth, I feel very indifferent to Cosmopolis. I didn't hate the book, but I'm not sure that I would ever read it again. The story seems simple enough - it takes place in April 2000 and tells the story of Eric Packer, a 28-year-old billionaire asset manager who decides that he needs to travel across town (New York) to get a hair cut. He travels in a tricked out white limo and meets a slue of characters and strange events on his journey.
Eric Packer is an interesting main character. For all intents and purposes he is a complete douchebag, devoid of all human emotion. He is almost robotic in his interactions with people. He hardly looks people in the eye, can't seem to recognize his wife that he married 22 days ago, cheats on his wife with a variety of women, and seems to generally be detached from the human race. He sees and feels no value in anything or anyone. Throughout the novel there are repeated examples of his callousness - such as when he admits he only married his wife for her family's money, which he hacks into an account and steals to only quickly lose it in an investment game he is playing surrounding the yen. This is one of the tamer examples that can be found in the book. He seems to engage in these activities with the hope of feeling something, or connecting, but doesn't seem to know how, and fails miserably time and time again. The kicker is he doesn't seem to feel any remorse over this.
The story, while appearing simple, is actually very complex. It is told in a fast-paced way, seemingly devoid of extraneous details. The book appears to be a record of thoughts as they whirl through the mind of Eric Packer. The trouble is, Eric is not very insightful, or doesn't care enough to try and be insightful, which leaves the reader little to go on as far as the feelings of the characters. I would be lying if I said that I understood it all. DeLillo has a unique writing style, and Cosmopolis has certainly peaked my interested in him as an author. However, if there is a true message to be found in Cosmopolis, I think I may have missed it.
I was hoping that in the end, Eric would have a redeeming quality, but if he did, I didn't see it. I suppose it could be a commentary on the dangers of a cataclysmic rise - Eric Packer had nowhere to go but down. He had reached such a dizzying height in the financial world that his life lost meaning. When you have billions of dollars and can have anything, whenever you want it, your life could easily lose value. Eric appears to have lost his will to live - he went through the motions of his life sensing that a fall was inevitable. He saw no challenge left in life, because those challenges had been removed via success and fortune. He even courted danger. Throughout the book, Eric makes a series of decisions that almost propel him towards his own destruction. He makes many of these decisions without considering or caring about the consequences. In many cases, he is just asking for trouble. However, I don't think DeLillo was trying to say that success and fortune where essentially bad things, more like that too much of a good thing can have dire consequences if there are no limits.
It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out on the big screen. For more information concerning the film, check out the following link: Cosmopolis
**Update - check out the trailer that was just released. The movie appears to be as crazy as the novel!