Sunday, April 29, 2012

CosmopolisCosmopolis by Don DeLillo
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A cold, heady journey that was reminiscent of an art-house film nightmare, a dystopic American Bergman, all dark and symbolic and hyper philosophical, with explicit violence: a limo ride through capitalist hell. Be prepared for dialogue that has little connection to the way people actually speak, and action that only glancingly mimics the way people actually act. The highpoint is atmospheric; descriptions of the Manhatten cityscape that are more colourful and alive than the swarming mass of humanity that fills the buildings and boulevards. You won't feel anything for the characters - which is, of course, by design and the whole point. DeLillo may have captured an aspect of the alienating and desensitizing effects of society on the brink of implosion. But as a portrait of what we have wrought, a time when currency is more alive than we are, it feels both excessive and incomplete. Kafka understood that when you write about alienation you must at least make the main character sympathetic. A novel like this that doesn't have one, makes for a tough slog. And yet you'll keep reading, if only to know if there's an aftermath to this ugly, bloody car wreck, and who dies. You need to have the stomach for it.

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