Books: Ever Wondered How You Could Steal $735M from Your Wife?; Fiction ; Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo PICADOR Pounds 16.99 Pounds 14.99 (+ Pounds 2.25 P&P PER ORDER) 0870 800 1122
Sutcliffe, William, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
"We've been married only weeks. Barely weeks."
"Everything is barely weeks. Everything is days. We have minutes to live."
"We don't want to start counting the times, do we? Or having solemn discussions on the subject."
"No. We want to do it."
"And we will. We shall."
"We want to have it," he said.
"Yes. Because there isn't time not to have it. Time is a thing that grows scarcer every day."
Contrary to appearances, the above is not an extract from a Fast Show sketch mocking pretentious European cinema. Nor was it retrieved from the dustbin at an undergraduate drama workshop. Astonishingly, this dialogue is to be found in the new novel by Don DeLillo, a man considered by many to be America's greatest living writer.
Cosmopolis relates the last day in the life of billionaire currency trader Eric Packer as he drives in his customised office- cum-limousine across a gridlocked Manhattan to get a haircut, crossing paths with an anti-globalisation protest, a presidential cortege, the funeral procession of a rap star, and finally a man who wants to assassinate him.
On the way he stops off a couple of times to have sex, once with a mistress, once with a female bodyguard who post-coitally shoots him with a stun gun, at his request. He also repeatedly and rather bizarrely bumps into his wife, with whom he has incomprehensibly pretentious conversations, almost as incomprehensibly pretentious as the conversations he spends the rest of the day having with the various employees who visit him in his limousine to discuss the nature of post-modern capital.
As the result of a disastrous overexposure to the yen, which is rising in a manner that "doesn't chart", Packer seems to have some kind of nervous breakdown that causes him to shoot his other bodyguard (without premeditation or afterthought), and, in a hastily sketched half-page, to steal and deliberately lose $735m of his wife's money in a Buck Rogers-style heist which requires him only to type a few passwords into his digital watch.
For anyone curious as to how you can nick three quarters of a billion dollars from your wife, here's how. Stage One: "It took him only a moment to decode a series of encrypted signatures." Stage Two: "Examine the bank, brokerage and offshore accounts of [your wife]. …