I'm not gonna break my arm patting myself on the back here, but when I saw Blade Runner as a kid, I was mesmerized by it almost immediately. When I then went and read the reviews for it I was kind of shocked: I couldn't believe that critics were for the most part shrugging it off as pompous and boring when what I'd seen was something stunning, powerful and visionary. And I was only eleven. Yes, I was that kind of annoying child.
Anyway, I bring this up because when Don DeLillo's Cosmopolis was published back in 2003, I ate it up, reveling in its vicious, obsidian black -- and sharp -- sense of humor, its heartless vision of a desensitized New York City and an American culture on the verge of utter collapse, and its eerie tone which read more like prophecy than fiction. DeLillo has always been able to turn chaos into poetry and in a novel as compact as Cosmopolis -- clocking in at only 224 pages -- his often cryptic way with words never felt unwieldy. The irony was that while the main character of the story, 28-year-old Wall Street savante Eric Packer, spent most of the book's length stuck in an impenetrable traffic jam, the story itself barreled forward with astonishing momentum. It was melancholic, it was nihilistic, it was ferocious -- and it was a fucking great read.
But the critics pretty much savaged it.
Well, kind of like Blade Runner, times have changed -- and maybe they've caught up to Cosmopolis.
Salon: Rethinking "Cosmopolis"/9.14.12