has to be sleep-inducing. A few pages of Proust, The Man Without Qualities, Montaigne. So when I couldn't find the book I was looking for in the library yesterday (a new biography of William Carlos Williams, all about his adulteries) I scanned the shelves till I came across Don Delillo--DeLillo, sorry--and pulled down Cosmopolis. The last Delillo--DeLillo--I read I loved, the one before that not so much. This one starts out brilliant, besides it has an epigraph from Zbigniew Herbert ("rat becomes the unit of currency"). The main character is a Startup Rich Guy traveling in the back of a white stretch limousine crabwise crosstown in Manhattan on a day the President (of what? of the United States, dude) has come to town. His interlocutor is Michael Chin his currency analyst (there should be quotation marks embedded in the quotation marks here, but I forgot them):
"There's a poem I read in which a rat becomes the unit of currency."
"Yes. That would be interesting," Chin said.
"Yes. That would impact the world economy."
"The name alone. Better than the dong or the kwacha."
"The name says everything."
"Yes. The rat," Chin said.
"Yes. The rat closed lower today against the euro."
"Yes. There is growing concern that the Russian rat will be devalued."
"White rats. Think about that."
"Yes. Pregnant rats."
"Yes. Major sell-off of pregnant Russian rats."
"Britain converts to the rat," Chin said.
"Yes. Joins trend to universal currency."
Yes. U.S. establishes rat standard."
"Yes. Every U.S. dollar redeemable for rats."
"Yes. Stockpiling of dead rats called global health menace."
"How old are you?" Chin said. "Now that you're not younger than everyone else."
That's page 24. My bookmark is at page 47. Not sure how much further I'll go; after a while it all starts to seem too clever. Which Zbigniew Herbert never does.