0525 | Less Than Zero | Bret Easton Ellis

0525 | Less Than Zero | Bret Easton Ellis post image

Context: Celebrated a special purchase with a trip to the Intercontinental for a fancy coffee while reading this. Lovely.

Written when he was just 21, Easton Ellis, made quite an impression on the literary scene with this tale of the morally impoverished youth of wealthy Los Angeles. In it, he warms himself up for his later portrayals of 1980s USAnia in Glamorama and, most spectacularly, American Psycho.

Easton Ellis is an important novelist because he does what the archetypical novelist should: use the art form to leave humanity with an impression of itself that later generations could never do.

In the very prose he adopts, a first person monologue that is pithy and punchy, Easton Ellis starts out with bare bones descriptions of what some of that era and generation would call life. Read now, it’s so easily seen as far from what life can offer.

We have high school and college youth living simply for their own pleasure and yet suffering all the while. There are very few judgements made by anyone in the novel, even when the narrator himself cannot face what his peers are obviously captivated by. Some of the episodes are fairly disturbing by Less Than Zero standards and, if they shock you enough to want to give up reading, do not, whatever you do, attempt American Psycho or you will seriously damage your soul.

So, what’s the point in portraying such pointlessness? Well, that is the point and it comes across exceptionally well. That a 21-year-old product of the very culture his novel encapsulates should have such an objective view strikes me as remarkable. This is a major debut novel and, as the ’80s thankfully disappear into distant memory, I’m glad the world will be able to look back through Easton Ellis’ work and see how awful it really was to live through.

FIRST

People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles.

LAST

This might reveal the ending. If you want to see the quote, click show

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Key: Legacy | Plot / toPic | Characterisation / faCts | Readability | Achievement | StyleRead more about how I come up with my ratings

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