Whenever I go on vacation I make it a point to not just grab any old thing to read. I try to pick out something that I’ve been meaning to read but have been unable to yet. Especially if I am going to be on a plane because that affords me a solid block of time to delve into a book. For this trip I brought along several books — 2 novels, 1 story collection, and 1 non-fiction book. I did not expect to read them all. I don’t have such a capacity. But I seem to need a tiny library when I do travel. Just in case.
For this trip my focus was on Brett Easton Ellis’ novel, Galmorama. It is the only book by Ellis’ that I have not yet read. I’ve had a hard copy edition for some years and have attempted to read it several times but never got further than maybe 20 pages in. I bought a paperback copy to read on the plane as it is a rather bulky book and have read about 60 pages in so for.
In some ways Glamorama resembles American Psycho. In fact, Patrick Bateman, the MC of AS makes an appearance in this novel, which was written after AS. But then a lot of people make appearances in it. The novel is concerned with celebrity culture. The main character is Victor Ward, male model and It Boy of the moment. He’s opening a new club. And the invite list is long, full of all manner of celebs. Victor is dating a big time model, Chloe. But he’s also running around with Alison Poole, another model/actress, who happens to be the main character in Jay McInerney’s novel, Story of My Life.
As with American Pyscho, the obsession with superficial details is frustrating but oddly compelling as well.
I did just finish a part where Victor meets with his father, which provided a bit more depth to the character, but it was short-lived. And yet enough to compel me on. The plot is supposed to involve terrorists eventually, in some way, I understand.
My main purpose in reading Glamorama is to explore a theme in Ellis’ work that I read about in a more recent article about the author. That theme is essentially the subversion of deep feeling by intensity of sensation, mainly via drug, sex and violence. When I read that it made immediate sense to me. Not just in terms of Ellis’ writing but in much of the culture of the 80s, in which I came of age.
I am always seeking out good reasons to use to defend Ellis’ work, as he has so many detractors and critics, some savagely so. I like to be at the ready to counter such arguments, especially to types who rant about his novel American Pyscho but who have failed to read it, and in fact refuse to read it.