DeLillo’s thirteenth novel is set in the year 2000 during the stock market boom before the bust. Packer is on the road in his stretch limo looking for a haircut and the chance to bet against the yen. A presidential visit, a funeral and a political demonstration get in his way. He has gratuitous sex, sadistic fantasies and voyeuristic indulgences to pass the time. If this is what billionaire asset managers are like, it is no wonder the market crashed.
Packer is an obnoxious degenerate with no redeeming social value, so DeLillo did a good job with his portraiture of him by virtue of the fact that readers can easily and quickly come to despise the character. It is too bad that the other characters are mere satellite cardboard cutouts with no development.
Cosmopolis is an ambitious novel that unfortunately falls flat. Despite having a gift for vivid imagery and a catchy turn of phrasing, DeLillo lets the story meander haphazardly along with little recognizable plot. The dialogue is stilted, the characters half-drawn and the ending melodramatic.
There is little to recommend this book for except perhaps a paperweight.