Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I thought that I would really dig Don Delillo's Cosmopolis. I read White Noise in a Contemporary Fiction class in college and loved it. And here is the blurb on the inside cover of Cosmopolis that somehow made me think I'd love it too: it describes a "billionaire asset manager" on a day-long odyssey in his custom limo, an odyssey to "get a haircut across town." It describes his obstacles: a presidential motorcade, the funeral of an iconic rapper, a "violent political demonstration." It describes the book as "funny and fast-moving," and mentions that "[s]ometimes he leaves the car for sexual encounters and sometimes he doesn't have to." Sounds like an engaging read.

In the end, though, I don't think this book was for me. It's too edgy. It's too artistic. The main character is inscrutable and unapproachable. The dialog is hard to follow because it's largely unattributed. The characters understand each other's inexplicable actions with barely a word passing between them, and I am left on the outside wondering if it's all pretentious or if I'm obtuse.

I think another me would have loved this book just as I loved White Noise. The me that I thought I would be by now when I was 19 would have taken notes as he read, would have drawn lines and connections, would have identified large themes and small incidents that contributed to them. The me that didn't drop out of Emerson College after a year because the money ran out. The me that got a graduate degree and a teaching position and eventually a doctorate. The me that published witty and intricate novels and became tenured. That guy would have loved this book.

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