Why I’m not Going to See/Read Cosmopolis

It seems negative to keep blogging about what I’m not going to do. It might give the impression that I get more enjoyment out of bagging on books and movies than supporting and/or promoting them. I swear it ain’t so. Just to prove my point I’ll tell you that I just finished reading The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: ThePox Party by M.T. Anderson, which, by the way, was a National Book Award Winner, and I loved it. I’m reading Volume II: The Kingdom on the Water right this very minute. So, having now leveled the karmic criticism field, I will continue on to the subject that brings me here today:

Why I’m not going to See/Read Cosmopolis.

Last night when I was skimming around IMDb, looking at trailers for movies coming out in the next few months (, YAY!!! This one I AM going to see) I came across the trailer for Cosmopolis. Here’s a link, if you’re curious: Cosmopolis trailer.

I stopped to look at it cuz, hey, Robert Pattinson, and I’m curious about what he’s up to, sans Twilight. I wonder if people felt that way about Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford away from their Star Wars rolls. I have a feeling Pattinson wants very badly to avoid being forever remembered as Edward Cullen. His role in Water for Elephants didn’t quite do that. He was still rather broody and romantic. Anyway, I watched the trailer and quickly decided that this one isn’t for me. Out of curiosity, I went to look up what I could about Cosmopolis, the book, on Amazon to see what people were saying about it.

From Publishers Weekly

DeLillo skates through a day in the life of a brilliant and precocious New Economy billionaire in this monotone 13th novel, a study in big money and affectlessness. As one character remarks, 28-year-old Eric Packer "wants to be one civilization ahead of this one." But on an April day in the year 2000, Eric’s fortune and life fall apart. The story tracks him as he traverses Manhattan in his stretch limo. His goal: a haircut at Anthony’s, his father’s old barber. But on this day his driver has to navigate a presidential visit, an attack by anarchists and a rapper’s funeral. Meanwhile, the yen is mounting, destroying Eric’s bet against it. The catastrophe liberates Eric’s destructive instinct-he shoots another character and increases his bet. Mostly, the action consists of sequences in the back of the limo (where he stages meetings with his doctor, various corporate officers and a New Economy guru) interrupted by various pit stops. He lunches with his wife of 22 days, Elise Shifrin. He has sex with two women, his art consultant and a bodyguard. He is hit in the face with a pie by a protester. He knows he is being stalked, and the novel stages a final convergence between the ex-tycoon and his stalker. DeLillo practically invented the predominant vernacular of the late ’90s (the irony, the close reading of consumer goods, the mock complexity of technobabble) in White Noise, but he seems surprisingly disengaged here. His spotlighted New Economy icon, Eric, doesn’t work, either as a genius financier (he is all about gadgetry, not exchange-there’s no love of the deal in his "frozen heart") or a thinker. The threats posed by the contingencies that he faces cannot lever him out of his recalcitrant one-dimensionality. DeLillo is surely an American master, but this time out, he is doodling.

I also recommend looking at this Amazon reviewer’s review. http://www.amazon.com/review/R8ARNCA9UPMFJ/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0743244249&nodeID=283155&store=books In which she says “It’s a fine book. A worthwhile read. I hated it!”

Obviously, nothing about Cosmpolis is going to satisfy my need for squee, i.e., no fanboy, fangirl quotient, in particular no appeal to a passionate fan of various elements of geek culture. Nope, nothing geeky about Cosmopolis at all. It’s sophisticated to the Nth degree. I, on the other hand, get giddy over the knowledge that I’m going to spend my Mother’s Day gawping at Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr., and Chris Evans all in one movie together, in one place, at one time. Forget flowers. Give me fit men in body hugging superhero costumes. I’m an unapologetic geek.

But, the Squee factor isn’t always the issue in choosing to read/not to read something. Nothing about Octavian Nothing should have appealed to me on its face. It was historical and political, and despite that the story and characters went straight to my heart. I don’t think Eric Packer or his story is going to touch on my emotions that way. I do think people like Erick Packer really exist. I do think DeLillo’s story is probably extremely relevant. I bet DeLillo illuminates some significant social and economic flaws in our system, and he might even be a virtual Nostradamus. But for me, I suspect trying to read it will only make me feel like outer-space alien trying to make sense of a strange world for which it has only limited language and social context. Just reading the Publisher’s Weekly summary makes me uncomfortable, and I don’t step outside of my comfort zone in leaps and bounds, but in fits and false starts.

Of course, I can’t really know if I’ll love or hate Cosmopolis unless I read it. But I’m not going to. It has a vague stench of offal about it– sweetbreads and other Haute Cuisine that the erudite swear they enjoy. And maybe they do, but I’m a Taco Truck kind of girl, and I tend to read Taco Truck kinds of books.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Elizabeth
    May 05, 2012 @ 16:36:05

    “monotone” “affectlessness” “big money”… yeah I have no desire to read this either. I mean, I’m sure it has some sort of high brow commentary on something, but I don’t this commentary needs to be painful or boring. YA dystopia has been proving that over and over lately!


  2. Elizabeth
    May 05, 2012 @ 16:36:40



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: