LA Times: Bret Easton Ellis

LA Times: Bret Easton Ellis, two decades beyond ‘Zero’

“I think in the last five years or so there’s been a rather ominous silence,” said Jonathon Keats, a San Francisco critic and artist who admires Ellis’ work. “It seems like Ellis has never been given the benefit of a test of time. He’s gone from being poster boy for everything extreme to a name that’s quaintly nostalgic — a moment from the past.”

But talk to some of the more serious writers of his generation and a different picture emerges.

Many see him as an overlooked figure, one whose literary heft grows with time. 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.

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.

It’s totally true, Glamorama, a great book, totally predated and predicted the rise of the ga-ga crazy paparazzi internet TMZ Perez Hilton Lindsey Lohan Nicole Simpson celebrity TV/news/celeblog culture going on currently…AND it has crazy predictions of a 9-11 type thing going on with bad guys and airplanes, etc…another very, very misunderstood and underrated book.

Bret Easton Ellis’ writing is very misunderstood sometimes, he has a great amount of control and style–he has such fine control over style that you have to look for subtle shifts where you realize he is writing in certain ways, which may seem boring or pedantic or whatever, but is actually finely crafted and tailored to fit the scene and fits the character, the style is actually an active, changing part of the storyline, responding to characters and situations, rather than a constant throughout the book–though I think he kind of overplayed this in the first quarter or half of Lunar Park, where the style and plot are rather boring and mundane, and kind of overtly ridiculous, in an intentional way, to reflect the mundane life of the protagonist, and the style and plot pick up quick rather quite grandly later on. That went way over people’s heads…it took me a few attempts to get through it myself.

By the way, any fan of Bret Easton Ellis has to read Don Delillo, his books such as White Noise and Cosmopolis are amazing and much of the writing and dialogue is witty, well observed, in a postmodern vein which may appeal to fans of Bret Easton Ellis’ best passages. Very trenchant and observant.


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