Sunday, October 02, 2005

Bret Easton Ellis' Newest -- Lunar Park

Let's just face it, I'm a Bret Easton Ellis fan. I have also been living under a rock, or I would have seen the myriad of interviews in the publishing press about his new novel, Lunar Park, released in August (Knopf 2005). That said, I was happily surprised as I found myself in an airport bookstore on a recent business trip facing a new hardcover from my favorite author. I read almost all of the book on the plane.

If you know Ellis's work, you know about his over-the-top depictions of violence, sex, and drug use. You also know that he also specializes in blurring reality and fantasy for both the reader and the characters themselves. His first book, Less Than Zero, was a near-perfect first novel describing that sense that we've moved when we come home from college and see our high school friends continuing on their own, old paths. It was a familiar and sad time for many of us. His third novel, American Psycho was a true breakout work. After Simon & Schuster refused to publish it, it was published in paperback by Vintage and promptly vilified by the American media (causing the New York Times to call for making it the first banned American book). 15 years later, it's now on the required reading list at several top universities. It is possibly the single best book in existence today describing the true excess of the out-of-control 1980s summed up in a Wall Street nutshell. (Seeing the movie doesn't count.) Additionally, it became a cornerstone in Ellis' evolution to his fascination with the real and the imagined. Not only did it describe long scenes of excessive drug use and murder, but it also created a world so crazy, you wondered if the main character, Patrick Bateman, hadn't imagined it all. You wondered where the reality stopped and his fantasy life began. In it, Ellis began to ask the question he devotes most of Lunar Park to answering -- when you create and live in fantasy worlds in your head (with words, drugs, or booze), how do you truly know what is real and what is not?

In Lunar Park, Ellis builds on the world he knows best -- his own. Using his previous books and characters as primary elements, he even casts himself as the main character. As the fictional Bret Ellis loses control of his suburban life to mystery, drugs, and ultimately, his own creations, he leaves it to his reader to determine exactly where the lines between fact and fiction lay. It's especially fun as he recaps his career which deviates from reality about the time he begins talking about what a worldwide bestseller American Psycho was.

Lunar Park is worth the read. It's even better if you're somewhat familiar with several of his previous works. Ellis isn't exactly a prolific novelist so it's worth the time to reread Less Than Zero if you haven't in a while. You'll be reminded of what a little gem it is -- and appreciate the fun he obviously has with Lunar Park even more. (Ellis, ahead of his time once again as he's managed to create his own branding by using the same characters again and again. Every time a new book comes out, it gives his backlist sales a hit! Brilliant!)


At Sun Oct 02, 02:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I skim a lot of blogs, and
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Tiffany Burrell
Keyword Queen!
ps. I confess, that's not my real picture! :-)

At Wed Oct 05, 06:43:00 PM, Anonymous TeddyV said...


Nice blog! I share your enthusiasm for Bret Easton Ellis, I own two (why you may ask?) copies of Less Than Zero on videotape, the book, and a first printing hardback of American Psycho. Liked Less Than Zero's film adaptation (the end of the novel was a bit over the top), hated American Psycho's (it was too past the 80's to get the whole hair, business card, and Giorgio Armani references...).

Again, love the blog and keep it up as a labor of love. You should be a writer!


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