Don DeLillo is the author of seventeen novels including White Noise, Libra, Underworld, Falling Man, and Zero K. He has won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the PEN/Saul Bellow Award, the Jerusalem Prize for his complete body of work, and the William Dean Howells Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. HIs story collection The Angel Esmeralda was a finalist for the Story Prize and the PEN/ Faulkner Award for Fiction. In 2013, DeLillo was awarded the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, and in 2015, the National Book Foundation awarded DeLillo its Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
For a book about a 28-year-old new-economy billionaire with a "frozen heart," Patton adopts a distant, machine-like narrative tone that has all the warmth of the computer HAL in Stanley Kubrick's 2001. It's a fitting approach, as the asset manager at the novel's center, Eric Packer, is hardly an avaricious tycoon, but rather an insular and literate egotist who seems more given to detached, philosophical reveries on everyday trivialities than to serious business analysis. That, too, fits, as this novel from DeLillo (Underworld; White Noise) takes place entirely in one day as Packer's life unravels while he's driven across Manhattan to get a haircut. He remains aloof both to listeners and to those around him, and Patton's understated reading imbues the proceedings with the subtle edginess of a mild drug. That's not to say that things are completely monotone, though; Patton also deftly portrays characters ranging from Packer's gruff, paranoid head of security to his aging Italian barber, one of the few characters who seem truly human. But the book is really an extended meditation, and while Patton's pitch may be perfect, the recording isn't for everyone. Simultaneous release with the Scribner hardcover (Forecasts, Dec. 9, 2002). (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Unlike his sprawling masterpiece, Underworld, DeLillo's 13th novel is short and tightly focused, indeed almost claustrophobic. Most of the action takes place inside a "prousted" (cork-lined) stretch limo, as the reclusive financial wizard Eric Packer is chauffeured across Manhattan for a haircut. Thanks to a presidential visit, antiglobalization demonstrations, and a celebrity funeral, this journey takes up most of the day. Stuck in traffic, Packer anxiously monitors the value of the yen on the limo's computer. Using the car as his office, he summons advisors from nearby shops and restaurants. His physician gives him a rubber-gloved physical exam in the back seat as Packer discusses imminent financial ruin with his broker and angry crowds block the streets. This work most closely resembles The Body Artist in its brevity and straightforward narrative flow. However, the earlier novel was written in an uncharacteristically warm, poetic style, promising a new direction for this important writer, while Cosmopolis reverts to the standard DeLillo boilerplate, perceptive and funny but also brittle and cold. This, coupled with the book's dated 1990s sensibility, makes Cosmopolis a step backward rather than an artistic advance.-Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Cosmopolis is a concise Ulysses for the new century.--The San Diego Union-Tribune