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Cockpit

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  727 ratings  ·  37 reviews
An agent known only as Tarden is a former operative of the mysterious security agency "the Service." He has erased himself from all dossiers and transcripts. Now a fugitive, he moves across the landscape free of identity, in search of adventure and intrigue. But Tarden is a man of many disguises, and he is alternately avenger and savior, judge and trickster, as he enters t...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 7th 1998 by Grove Press (first published January 1st 1968)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,006)
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Morgane Zephyr
It was Friday and I was going to be late for work. Having a boring, dull job with actually having nothing to DO during the working hours, I was freaking out and sliding all over my polished parquet floors, trying to find an acceptable piece of read for a couple-of-hours long nothingness.
- As my very first meeting with Kosinski's work, this experience was like an emotional rollercoaster. A rollercoaster you can't get out of, cause it tights you to the bones. At times I despised him with open hatr...more
Jeff
Well, I really loved Kosiński's The Painted Bird when I read it last year, so I picked this up at a used book store and found it kind of a letdown. It is very similar to Painted Bird, but what seemed like dark surrealism when the protagonist was a little kid, felt cruel and pointless when the character was a manipulative, isolated adult. I guess you could see it as an appropriate sequel -- it kills off any shreds of innocence you might have felt still existed in the world after reading the earli...more
Bookcase Jim
It's Tarden's world, the rest of us live in it.

That's the impression you get as you read this novel; essentially a plotless series of vignettes that delve into the mind and exploits of a brilliant sociopath mononymously known as Tarden. While fiction is fiction, there is an element of the autobiographical: Jerzy Kosinski, claims to have escaped communist Poland by forging travel documents issued by fabricated officials; a plot that is elaborately described in Cockpit.

Essentially the novel follo...more
DoctorM
What does one say about "Cockpit"? It's...Dr. Lecter meets "Man From UNCLE" meets Travel Channel meets Helmut Newton? Something like that. Not for the faint of heart, or for those who think the world has meaning or natural morality. Scary, bleakly funny, unsettling--- an old favourite.
Dave
Bizarre read. Far fetched at times, other times impossible to put down. Disturbing, brilliant, nice escape for a couple of days.
Bad-at-reading
Cockpit has a good premise, possibly a response to the image in popular fiction of the time of espionage as romantic, globe-trotting work. It's the story of a Slavic ex-spy who, like many soldiers, can't adjust properly to life outside "the Service". He can only form bonds with others through deceit, manipulation, and surveillance, so he ends up tormenting, extorting, and even murdering his friends and lovers. There's no strict plot, just series of anecdotes (not unlike its followup Blind Date)...more
Tara
Cockpit is the story of Tarden, a man of unyielding power and intelligence; he is the narrator of the story as well. His voice uses total certainty & control and he never has little to say of himself. None of the stories highlight his experiences without an abnormal or terrifying twist, and most delineate his superhuman qualities. Because of his boasting, there were points where I had to put down the book and say, "Come on, Tarden, get over yourself!" However, his braggadocio is justified as...more
Joe Stamber
Cockpit is a difficult novel to describe. It's like a guy is looking back on his life and recollecting a series of unconnected and pointless anecdotes in no particular order. Hmm, I think that sums up my thoughts on the book pretty well. Cockpit is easy enough to read and has a few, er, interesting moments to save it from a single star rating but it's just nonsense really.
Kerem
Worst book I've ever read in so many years. Most of the book contains unrelated short adventures or tales of the low-life ex-russian now american agent. Can't even spend time criticizing it any further.

Anna Prejanò
L’abitacolo del titolo (Cockpit) è la cabina di pilotaggio: uno spazio chiuso e protetto da cui si manovrano i comandi. Uno spazio simbolico, dato che il filo conduttore della narrazione (episodica e rapsodica) è il piacere infantile (e quindi sadico) del controllo sulle vite degli altri al fine esclusivo di fare un bel gioco, tanto più divertente quanto più le catene causa-effetto innescate dal pilota sono complesse e studiate, micidiali nel loro effetto ultimo (lontanissimo e imprevedibile ris...more
Chris
What a strange and powerful book! Recommended for all those who feel powerless, defeated, or frustrated by the primary cultural institutions such as politics, jobs, sex, sports, marriage and family, and more. The way the author skewers and exposes the ridiculousness of sports and competition is particularly funny through his use of extreme irony. The book is essentially a set of many short stories but it is not presented that way. There are no section breaks at all, merely a capital letter which...more
Kathryn
I found this book to be kind of disturbing (especially in the narrator's accounts of sexual exploits). Also, the beginning doesn't really match up with the rest of the book. The narrator begins by writing to a specific person, but a few pages in and it's all just a ramble; no further mention of why he is writing (or if he is still writing) to that same person. I didn't really find the book to be a page-turner; more of a drag.
Mark
Of the books by Kosiński I've read, this one had the least going for it. The passages become very dark without the redeeming qualities I found in his other novels. If you are into the "heart of darkness", and do not mind the relentless exploration into that psychosis, check it out. Perhaps I should revisit this one; I admit I may have missed the point.
Terry
Jul 16, 2012 Terry rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: novel
Cockpit is action-filled, and quick reading. Tarden is the main (only) character and he is extremely intelligent. He uses this to his benefit by entertaining himself with other's lives. He is merciless, but honest with everyone. Tarden took advantage of people who left themselves unguarded. Sex and violence prevail.
Jaime Keeling
there's nothing in this book for me
treva
I keep wavering between 2 and 3 stars. Tarden is one of the most despicable anti-heroes I've ever come across. He actually has zero redeeming qualities. This is probably one of the truest depictions of sociopathy you can find in literature. And because of that, it is almost addictive to read.
Heath Schultz
Kosinski is such an interesting, provocative writer. He challenges us by exploring a particular kind of (usually twisted) psychological power, domination, and often gross sadism. If you've haven't read Kosinski, or have only read "Being There", give a few of his others a chance, they are worth it.
Christina knox
kozinski's one sick fuck. this is the one about the rich photographer with a string of mirror lives created across the globe. it's pretty sweet. the rape scene still haunts me though. i don't recommend anyone with a delicate temperament or heavily impressionable psyche read kozinski.
Andrew

Gut reaction:

If you haven't read this book, buy it now!!!! There's nothing more to be said, really.


Considered review:

I like books with a plot. I hate novels that are plotless. This book is plotless but I still loved it. That says a lot for the quality of the writing.
Erin Beck
Cockpit was nowhere near as nasty as kosinski's other books. Because of this I was a little dissappointed. I still enjoyed the book but it didn't make me wither in disgust and have to turn my eyes from the page like his others.
Jan Horalik
I read this book in Czech, but I am lazy to create a new book entry. Most of the book I was wondering why this book is announced as psychological, when it is full of sex. At the end I realized. I liked it.
taryn
Feb 12, 2008 taryn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Jerry Kosinski's friends and family loved it!
If you find yourself on a 25-hour, three-legged flight from Asia, you could read this mildly sadistic spy novel if you had to. Instead, plan ahead and don't rely on your luck in a Bangkok bookstore.
Özgün
Cockpit contains the infamous Kosinski-violence as usual and tells the story of a spy. Who is quite twisted inside. Not as powerful as other books I read by Kosinski, so this gets a three star.
Jack
Interesting write from what I once thought were original stories. I later have learned that many have found that the stories were not his. Interesting reading.
April
Still compelling, but Koskinski's moral compass has almost completely eroded at this point. Read at your own risk.
Fran
Another book of alienation and struggle for human connection, in Kozinski's harsh prose.
Susan
i recommend this to everyone..........soooooo good. i can't do it justice, just read it.
Stephen
Odd book. One wonders how much was real and how much was fiction.
Jon
Read this when feeling a bit out of control - Kozinski spins a great yarn.
Jonathan
always memorable, but this one not as much...
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Kosiński was born Josef Lewinkopf to Jewish parents in Łódź, Poland. As a child during World War II, he lived in central Poland under a false identity his father gave him to use, Jerzy Kosiński. A Roman Catholic priest issued him a forged baptismal certificate. The Kosiński family survived the Holocaust thanks to local villagers, who offered assistance to Jewish Poles often at great personal risk...more
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