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Via ‘Bret’ via Bret

J. Robert Lennon: Bret Easton Ellis

24 June 2010
Imperial Bedrooms 
by Bret Easton Ellis.
Picador, 178 pp., £16.99, July 2010, 978 0 330 44976 2
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... The marketing blurbs for BretEastonEllis’s new novel, Imperial Bedrooms, would have it be a sequel to Less than Zero, the 1985 novel that made him famous. It is, after a fashion: all of Ellis’s books are sequels, prequels, spinoffs and derivatives of each other. They share a universe, or perhaps a multiverse, of interconnected fictional lives and storylines, all of which bear, or are ...

Remember me

Adam Phillips: Bret Easton Ellis

1 December 2005
Lunar Park 
by Bret Easton Ellis.
Picador, 308 pp., £16.99, October 2005, 0 330 43953 7
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... BretEastonEllis has always been interested in the ways in which people don’t pay attention, and in the cost of attention when it is paid. In the comédie humaine he has been writing since 1985, when his first ...


Mary Hawthorne

10 November 1994
The Informers 
by Bret Easton Ellis.
Picador, 226 pp., £9.99, October 1994, 0 330 32671 6
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... 2.0 and 1.9 and so on until they can do it in 0.0? So at what point will they not break a record? Will they have to change the time or change the record?’ The line of inquiry might be applied to BretEastonEllis (for one), who, in pushing to the limit the current parameters of literary transgression, effectively landed us in the vicinity of zero with his last book, American Psycho: Back in my ...

Mr Trendy Sicko

James Wolcott

23 May 2019
by Brett Easton Ellis.
Picador, 261 pp., £16.99, May, 978 1 5290 1239 2
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... trade paperback series Vintage Contemporaries, the springboard for Jay McInerney’s breakthrough novel, Bright Lights, Big City, and Morgan Entrekin, the editor at Simon and Schuster who acquired BretEastonEllis’s Less than Zero. Lish had the cult cred, but their properties shone the brightest. Gary and Morgan, Morgan and Gary, Jay and Bret, Bret and Jay – how often we heard their names tick ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: I'll eat my modem

10 August 2000
... hard to imagine authordirect producing a more ‘experimental’ novel than Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves (Anchor, £13), published on paper to great acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. BretEastonEllis has said that ‘it renders most other fiction meaningless. One can imagine Pynchon and Ballard and Stephen King and David Foster Wallace bowing at Mark Danielewski’s feet, choking ...

Young Ones

Hugh Barnes

5 June 1986
Damaged Gods 
by Julie Burchill.
Century, 152 pp., £8.95, March 1986, 0 7126 1140 1
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Love it or shove it: The Best of Julie Burchill 
Century, 148 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 7126 0746 3Show More
Girls on Film 
by Julie Burchill.
Virgin, 192 pp., £5.99, March 1986, 9780863691348
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Less than Zero 
by Bret Easton Ellis.
Picador, 208 pp., £2.95, February 1986, 0 330 29400 8
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... stopped making women’s films, cinema admissions worldwide have slumped from 1,500 million in 1946 to 86 million in 1980 – which is, again, roughly the period between surrenders. The characters in BretEastonEllis’s precocious first novel are also getting used to life in a land of plenty of nothing, although they are relatively well-heeled nihilists – the sons and daughters of wealthy ...

Short Cuts and Half Cuts

Luke Kennard: ‘Early Work’

20 June 2019
Early Work 
by Andrew Martin.
Picador, 256 pp., £14.50, July, 978 1 250 21501 7
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... this point the first flush of attraction has worn off. At the end of the book Leslie is hit by an egg on her way to a bar where Pete is holding forth. She decides not to go in. Andrew Martin isn’t BretEastonEllis taking eight hundred pages to demonstrate that the world of high fashion is a bit shallow. Early Work is humane, and the characters are lovable even as they get blitzed in dive bars on a ...

The Whole Point of Friends

Theo Tait: Dunthorne’s Punchlines

22 March 2018
The Adulterants 
by Joe Dunthorne.
Hamish Hamilton, 173 pp., £12.99, February 2018, 978 0 241 30547 8
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... This, I suppose, is the force of his punning title: his characters commit adultery, but they also debase or make impure. But compared to other cosseted young people in satire – in Evelyn Waugh or BretEastonEllis, say – Ray doesn’t seem amoral and culpable so much as confused and pathetic. And Dunthorne remains surprisingly sympathetic to his plight, as he becomes an ‘unusual person’: the ...


Andy Beckett: Dennis Cooper’s short novel

21 May 1998
by Dennis Cooper.
Serpent’s Tail, 176 pp., £8.99, March 1998, 1 85242 586 5
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... furious. I grabbed hold of his neck and ground the broken bottle into his face, really twisting and shoving it in. Then I crawled across the room and sat cross-legged, watching him bleed to death. BretEastonEllis tried the same kind of scenes in American Psycho. Yet Ellis’s protagonist killed with glee, and thrilled at getting away with it. He was a wealthy and successful New Yorker; his crimes ...
5 June 1986
by Jay McInerney.
Cape, 279 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 224 02355 1
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Bright Lights, Big City 
by Jay McInerney.
Flamingo/Fontana, 182 pp., £2.75, April 1986, 0 00 654173 9
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... experimented with this theme in his first novel, Bright Lights, Big City. This is the second first novel I have seen recently which has been compared with The Catcher in the Rye, the other being BretEastonEllis’s Less than Zero. Neither of them is remotely as good as the comparison makes out: but Less than Zero (‘Snorting Coke in LA’) has less right to it than Bright Lights, Big City ...

Gender Distress

Elaine Showalter

9 May 1996
In the Cut 
by Susanna Moore.
Picador, 180 pp., £12.99, April 1996, 0 330 34452 8
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The End of Alice 
by A.M. Homes.
Scribner, 271 pp., $22, March 1996, 0 684 81528 1
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... Homes draws on Lolita and Lewis Carroll in characterising her ironic, stammering paedophile. Moore, too, drops many literary clues: Frannie assigns her creative-writing students Orwell, Tolstoy and BretEastonEllis, rather than Brighton Rock, in which the murderer, holding a straight razor, says deadpan, ‘Such tits,’ or Naipaul’s Guerrillas because the ‘beating, murdering and dismembering ...
7 October 1993
My Idea of Fun 
by Will Self.
Bloomsbury, 309 pp., £14.99, September 1993, 0 7475 1591 3
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... novel could well be the eternal Burroughsian question – ‘Wouldn’t you?’ To which ‘actually, no’ is the honest reply. If you thought that it couldn’t get more disgusting than BretEastonEllis then you were wrong. The book opens with a banal question at a London dinner party: ‘What’s your idea of fun?’ The narrator, Ian Wharton, makes all too clear that his answer to the ...

I totally do look nice

Luke Brown: Adam Thirlwell

19 March 2015
Lurid & Cute 
by Adam Thirlwell.
Cape, 358 pp., £16.99, January 2015, 978 0 224 08913 5
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... prolepsis alert the reader to his eventual comeuppance; the story is told ‘now that I am maimed and aged and all alone.’ The casual way he takes and talks about drugs is reminiscent of a novel by BretEastonEllis or Tao Lin, but Thirlwell goes below the blank affect to focus on the manic energy of solipsism. The plot might sound noirish, but the novel doesn’t try to entertain with suspense ...


Christopher Tayler: Aleksandar Hemon

23 May 2013
The Book of My Lives 
by Aleksandar Hemon.
Picador, 224 pp., £20, March 2013, 978 1 4472 1090 0
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... with my sister chunks of dialogue (mispronounced) from His Girl Friday,’ he writes: ‘I could recite Public Enemy’s angry invectives, and was up to my ears in Sonic Youth … I wrote an essay on BretEastonEllis and corporate capitalism.’ In general the younger self he depicts is worldlier and luckier and less purposefully shaped than the analogous figures in the fiction – almost as if ...


John Lanchester

11 July 1991
Serial Murder: An Elusive Phenomenon 
edited by Stephen Egger.
Praeger, 250 pp., £33.50, October 1990, 0 275 92986 8
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Serial Killers 
by Joel Norris.
Arrow, 333 pp., £4.99, July 1990, 0 09 971750 6
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Life after Life 
by Tony Parker.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.50, May 1991, 0 330 31528 5
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American Psycho 
by Bret Easton Ellis.
Picador, 399 pp., £6.99, April 1991, 0 330 31992 2
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Dirty Weekend 
by Helen Zahavi.
Macmillan, 185 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 333 54723 3
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Silence of the Lambs 
by Thomas Harris.
Mandarin, 366 pp., £4.99, April 1991, 0 7493 0942 3
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... are not capable. There is a kernel of wish-fulfilment in the hold this figure has on the public imagination. He fulfils a general desire to believe that the human psyche is not fully explicable. BretEastonEllis’s new novel, American Psycho, is an attempt to tell the story of a serial murder through a first-person narrative conducted by the murderer himself. The novel has had very bad reviews ...

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