BOOK: Going deeper into the bookstore of Cosmopolis

If you’ve been with us a while, you know chauffeur M’s papers. She did this one early on. With chauffeur Deb and set soldier Suzie visiting the set on Sunday, we now know that the scene in this paper has been shot. 🙂

Who is the woman Eric is looking for?

Book excerpt after the cut! *spoilers*

From Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis:

The car stopped dead and he got out and stretched. Traffic ahead was a long liquid shimmer of idling metal. He saw Torval walking toward him.

“Imperative that we reroute.”

“The situation is what.”

“This. We have flood conditions in the streets ahead. State of chaos. This. The question of the president and his whereabouts. He is fluid. He is moving. And wherever he goes, our satellite receiver reports a ripple effect in the traffic that causes mass paralysis. This also. There is a funeral proceeding slowly downtown and now deflecting westward. Many vehicles, numerous mourners on foot. And finally this. We have a report of imminent activity in the area.”


“Imminent. Nature as yet unknown. The complex says, Use caution.”

The man waited for a response. Eric was looking past him at a large shop window, one of the few on the street not showing rows of precious metal set with gems. He felt the street around him, unremitting, people moving past each other in coded moments of gesture and dance. They tried to walk without breaking stride because breaking stride is well-meaning and weak but they were forced sometimes to sidestep and even pause and they almost always averted their eyes. Eye contact was a delicate matter. A quarter second of a shared glance was a violation of agreements that made the city operational. Who steps aside for whom, who looks or does not look at whom, what level of umbrage does a brush or a touch constitute? No one wanted to be touched. There was a pact of untouchability. Even here, in the huddle of old cultures, tactile and close-woven, with passersby mixed in, and security guards, and shoppers pressed to windows, and wandering fools, people did not touch each other.

He stood in the poetry alcove at the Gotham Book Mart, leafing through chapbooks. He browsed lean books always, half a finger-breadth or less, choosing poems to read based on length and width. He looked for poems of four, five, six lines. He scrutinized such poems, thinking into every intimation, and his feelings seemed to float in the white space around the lines. There were marks on the page and there was the page. The white was vital to the soul of the poem.

Klaxons sounded to the west, the electric knell of emergency vehicles that were sometimes still called ambulances, fixed in stagnant traffic.

A woman moved past, behind him, and he turned to look, too late, not sure how he knew it was a woman. He didn’t see her enter the back room but knew she had. He also knew he had to follow. Torval had not come into the bookstore with him. One of the aides was stationed near the front door, the female of the set, eyes rising briefly from the book in her hands.

He passed through the doorway into the back room, where several customers disentombed lost novels from the deep shelves. There was a woman among them and he only had to glance at her to know she was not the one he was looking for. How did he know this? He didn’t but did. He checked the offices and staff toilet and then saw there were two doorways to this part of the shop. When he’d entered one, she’d left by the other, the woman he was looking for.

He went back to the main room and stood on the old floorboards, among the unpacked boxes, in the redolence of faded decades, scanning the area. She wasn’t among the customers and staff. He realized his bodyguard was smiling at him, a black woman with a striking face, letting her eyes range playfully toward the door to her right.

He walked over there and opened the door to a hallway that had stacks of books on one wall, photographs of sociopath poets on the other. A flight of stairs led to the gallery above the main floor and a woman sat on the stairs, unmistakably the one. There was a quality discernible in her repose, a lightness of bearing, and then he saw who she was. She was Elise Shifrin, his wife, reading a book of poems.

He said, “Recite to me.”

She looked up and smiled. He knelt on the step beneath her and put his hands on her ankles, admiring her milky eyes above the headband of the book.

“Where is your necktie?” she said.

“Had my checkup. Saw my heart on a screen.” He ran his hands up her calves to the rills behind the knees.

“I don’t like saying this.”


“You smell of sex.”

“That’s my doctor’s appointment you smell.”

“I smell sex all over you.”

“It’s what. It’s hunger you smell,” he said. “I want to eat lunch. You want to eat lunch. We’re people in the world. We need to eat and talk.”

He held her hand and they moved single file through groggy traffic to the luncheonette across the street.

Click HERE to travel into the luncheonette with Eric and Elise

Our first look at Kendra…oh what a scene she has later on. 😉 Thank you again Suzie for sharing you photos with us. 🙂

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  • DebbieCDC (aka SeattleChik)

    When I first read the book I thought that bit about them being “hidden” in the bookstore and him putting his hands on her ankles & running them up her legs was so damn erotic. I think all of Eric & Elise’s interactions are so highly charged,
    Kendra should have been my role, what I can do with Stoly……js

    • LOL i wanna be kendra too…that’s gonna be some scene.

      i agree…the part you mentioned did read erotic. whenever he’s with elise i felt that sexual charge in him too.

      • ABV

        for me,the reason this story is sexually charged is because it’s Rob…He looks like *Sex*,especially in that damn suit…Everything he does is highly sexual…Just looking at the camera he looks sexual….Hell,I’m absolutely certain this book was written for him..DeLillo saw Rob and wrote it with him in mind,Lol….

  • mary

    I love it how you ladies, always find the right photos and bring them with the parts of the novel.
    I really enjoyed reading Elise and Eric’s part. But this one when they met in the bookshop was my most favorite. Though they weren’t like other couples and their marriage was based on their status, but i loved how every-time Eric met Elise he always showed some affections. I think he did have feelings toward Elise in these parts even though he only knew about it at the end.

  • rpattzgirl

    Eric & Elise seem so “apart” yet so connected to each other…it’s such an odd relationship…
    I love how Eric loses pieces of his clothing, his tie, jacket later throughout the day…pieces oh himself as well..
    And she seems to smell and know hes had these encounters…
    It’s fascinating the more the story unfolds…I wonder how they’re gong to handle Erics constant thoughts? VoiceOver?

    • I wonder about that too….the voice over

    • Susan

      I have to say I’ve been wondering this since I read the book. So much of the dialogue is internal. It’ll be interesting to see.

      • MPV

        Cronenberg is not too fond of voiceovers in his films in general, for example in Spider, the original script adapted from the book had a lot of voiceover and he decided to edit the script himself to take the voice over out, so in Cosmopolis it will be interesting to see how DC adapted it himself

        • Susan

          I’m kinda glad to hear that. There is so much inner dialogue in the book that I think it would be a tad overwhelming in a movie. Didn’t Cronenberg do the screenplay?

          • MPV

            Yes!! 😀 Cronenberg is the one doing the adapting the book to script for this one, which is amazing, he is a great writer. It will be interesting to see how he decides to capture those parts of the book in which Eric goes through his internal turmoil. But so far the little scenes we got to see them filming, have seen very similar to the book, so it seems it is going to be a great adaptation.

          • Susan

            I honestly think that will make it a better movie. His vision for this will be crystal clear…perfection. I’m particularly anxious to see Rob’s talent challenged with Cronenberg at the helm.

  • Dalva

    The coolest part of this excerpt is how Eric notices nobody ‘s touching , “the pact of untouchability” and then there he is with Elise, touching her ankles, and it is so sensual and so, hm, tender, him kneeling……a glimpse of slightly different Mr. Packer . Great wallpaper, this book is exactly as it’s written above, lean, with vital white parts…reads like a poem, but somebody already said that, I think 😉

    • It was mentioned in our discussion group a few months back. i said this too, it does read like a poem. i had that feeling the whole novel.

  • Heather

    Wow rob looks great in all these picts! absolutely beautiful!!

  • Susan

    To me, the part where Eric touches Elise is the first ‘human’ moment we get to witness. He seems a little…um…strange at times and a little distant, almost mechanical in his relationships. This is the first, and one of the rare, glimpses we get that there is something deeper going on with him….something emotional and not analytical. All through his day, he has these ‘encounters’ with women but yet he keeps going back to Elise and they share these interesting moments. Metaphor? Maybe. It’s with this touch on her legs that he seems like a normal husband…a normal man…for the first time. At least to me….