According to an L.A. Times article, Bret Easton Ellis is working on a squel to his break out novel, Less Than Zero. The new novel will take it’s title from the Elivis Costello song, “Imperial Bedroom,” which Ellis calls “sonically, an absolute ’80s masterpiece.”
I agree with the article that Ellis is often misunderstood and far too maligned. His novel, American Psycho is an excellent work that has been savaged by too many people that never bothered to read it. That is a crime punishable by a swift kick in the groin, not to mention it’s just bullshit! And his first novel, Less Than Zero, remains a Gen X icon and touchstone.
I was encouraged to see that Ellis is a fan of the HBO show The Wire, the best TV show ever made, it is proof that television need not be populate with crap like American Idol, but of course it still will be.
I love this bit from the article:
His work is often savaged by critics: His last book, the 2005 quasi-autobiographical novel “Lunar Park,” was deemed “the worst novel I’ve ever read” by Steve Almond in the Boston Globe.
I’d like to be hipped to this asshole Almond’s reading list. Obviously the dude has an ax to grind.
The author of the pieces goes on to argue that:
It may be that like a lot of things that emerge from California, the style and vision of Ellis’ work creates problems for East Coast intellectuals, but will become as enduring as psychedelia, surfing, the hard-boiled novel or fast food.
I think there is plenty of merit in this view. Americans’ didn’t get William Faulkner in his time either. Many still don’t. The French did, though. And as the author of this article says, Europeans seem to get Ellis, and that could be his saving grace. I hope so anyway. He is an author that should not be forgotten.
But while Almond may be a pretentious Eastern intellectual ass, he’s not the only voice in the crowd. Consider an alternate opinion:
A.O. Scott, the New York Times film critic who is working on a book about contemporary American fiction, considers 1991’s “American Psycho,” a skewering of ’80s greed sometimes seen as an endorsement of it, “one of the most misunderstood books in all of American literature.” For Scott, “Glamorama,” which got scathing reviews, is a book that “in 100 years might be understood as a masterpiece,” the work that presaged the combustion between the Internet and celebrity.
Glamorama it the on Ellis novel that I’ve not written, but perhaps it is time to. It took me a long time to come to American Psycho. I couldn’t seem to read it when it first came out. I didn’t get it. All the name brand detailing was just too much to wade through. And I admit I was influenced by all the criticism of it. I simply wasn’t going to read it. I did see the movie and that got me thinking about it again, but it wasn’t until about a year ago that I finally picked it up to try and give it a serious read. Well, there was not trying to it. I found it very readable now. And while I found some of the violence difficult to take, I was not willing to write the book off based on that alone. Nor was I going to ascribe the tendencies of the main character and narrator, Patrick Bateman, to the Ellis himself. Why would people assume such a thing? But plenty of people did, and do.
“What bothered a lot of folks about ‘Psycho,’ ” said Albert Mobilio, fiction editor of Bookforum, “wasn’t the ultra-violence, but the killer’s devotion to brand-name products. The devotion was satirized with such energetic precision that it was impossible not to conclude that Ellis himself was pretty besotted. That may have proved his real literary crime.
I was at a party with a gathering of authors and professors and by all measure intelligent supposedly open-minded people. And yet the called Ellis a shallow, materialistic, misogynistic, psychopath. It was fucking amazing, because not only did these people not know Bret Easton Ellis, had never even met him (I did, at a reading in Ann Arbor, but it amounts to nothing really), they’d never even read the book, and more to the point refused to read it. I wanted to say, Fine. Don’t read it. But then you don’t really get to have a serious opinion. So shut the fuck up already!