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Author Review: Bret Easton Ellis


When you’re born and bred in Los Angeles, you might have a thing or two to say about it.

Bret Easton Ellis certainly does, an author who writes from first-hand experience the supposedly glamorous lifestyle riddled with fame, money and celebrities, and not to forget plenty of heat – in the literal and metaphorical sense.

At just twenty years old and at college, Ellis wrote and published his first novel Less Than Zero (1985), which fortunately for him was a success that led him towards his own fame. To put it simply, the novel depicts a decade from the eighties about a group of rich teenagers in California that succumb to a shallow and superficial lifestyle. People become your friend because they want something from you, take drugs just so they can feel something genuine and everyone breaks your heart, or they just find a way to break you. In a world where nothing seems authentic, the protagonist narrates his isolating efforts to find his purpose and a peace of mind. For anyone who loves that dramatic Hollywood storyline which talks about a place most people dream about but don’t understand, this is a novel to pick up.

After this success, Ellis went on to write a collection of similar novels portraying the lives of the confused American youth such as The Informers (1994) and Rules of Attraction (1987). Considering his age at the time, it made sense to target a young generation that would relate automatically to the feelings of immense pressure to know who you are and what you want. His other less known novels include Glamorama (1998), Luna Park (2005) and his most recent work Imperial Bedrooms (2010).

For those reading who know Bret Easton Ellis’s work well, you’re probably wondering when a specific title is going to be mentioned. That title, who many people in literature have undoubtedly heard of, is American Psycho (1991). This is without argument the novel that gained him world wide attention where a mixture of reactions surfaced. Shock, disgust, intrigue, and admiration to name a few. American Psycho sinks its teeth into the reader’s skin and leaves them unable to escape from the protagonist’s fascinating but terrifying stream of consciousness about a Wall Street worker named Patrick Bateman who is also a serial killer. First impressions of this novel is that its a pure product of gore. However, when analysed deeper it is really a radical discussion of Capitalism and consumer culture. Patrick Bateman convinces us how truly obsessed the bourgeoisie are with a materialist and conventional lifestyle, including himself. The pressure to live up to that existence proves to be too much for the Wall Street worker which results in a grotesque outlet from a sense of oppression by carrying out a string of murders. An ambiguous ending is left waiting for the readers to discuss and debate a surprising twist.

American Psycho is not suited to anyone that likes to delve into a more rosier imagination. The imagery that is produced by Ellis’s writing is difficult to digest and it is safe to say that no one would be blamed for skipping a chapter or two. It is a novel for the brave and curious that want to keep their eyes open, or for someone that needs their adrenaline boosted.

Many of Ellis’s titles have been produced into films starring popular names such as Christian Bale, Robert Downey Jr and Amber Heard and Jessica Biel. So if the idea of a novel is not your thing, go ahead and check them out on screen.

Written by Courtney Ann

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