Picks and Pans Review: Cosmopolis
By Don DeLillo
Many critics consider DeLillo the finest literary novelist of his generation. They're wrong, and Cosmopolis demonstrates exactly how a major talent has skidded off the rails.
DeLillo's 13th novel plods like crosstown traffic in Manhattan. In fact, it's about crosstown traffic in Manhattan, on a day in April 2000. Billionaire financier Eric Packer boards his yacht-size limo and spends the book creeping west in search of a haircut. He bumps into his wife (whom he seems to barely know), has sexual trysts, witnesses an anti-globalization riot, loses billions and heads for a showdown with a psychotic ex-employee.
None of the characters seem real; they all talk like novelists, and not necessarily good ones: "Time is a thing that grows scarcer every day." And there is no insight into the "Wall Street euphoria that in 2000 was about to crash to earth. Every event cues a banal postcard from the doom land of paranoid intellectuals: Capitalism equals violence; technology is destroying our souls. In a word, DeLillo has become boring. (Scribner, $25)
BOTTOM LINE: Literary gridlock
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