I’ve just finished reading yet another book that will leave you, my dear readers, wondering if perhaps I should see a therapist. I am of course referring to Bret Easton Ellis’ latest novel, Imperial Bedrooms, a sequel to Less than Zero.
Less than Zero documents the December vacation of Clay, a disaffected young adult who spends his days attending parties, taking drugs and witnessing a 15 year old getting gang raped. USA Today has described it as “The Catcher in the Rye for the MTV generation”, and I have to agree. The detached manner in which Clay narrates everything is very reminiscent of Caulfied.
As previously mentioned Imperial Bedrooms is a follow-up to Less than Zero. It’s more than a quarter of a century since we were introduced to Clay and his morally bankrupt gang. Clay is now a successful screenwriter and blah, blah, blah. Let’s face it, like most of Bret’s novel, this one has very little plot.
What makes this book such a compelling novel isn’t the run on sentences or the fact that it’s “teeming with sharp details of narcissistic youth”. It is the fact that, as with Lunar Park, Bret manages to heighten the suspense. You’re, to use a cliché, constantly sitting on the edge of your seat, wondering what will come next. Unfortunately what did come next was rather disappointing.
I hated the way the book ended. It just seemed so abrupt.
And I hated that use of gratuitous violence that seemed to have no purpose, other than to shock the readers. And I’m not talking about the murders of individuals with whom he had a previous “relationship”. I’m talking about the one pager where he talks about how he purchased a young girl and boy and then rapes and abuses. What purpose this this serve???
Anyway because it wouldn’t be a Sid Kane book review without an extract, here’s an example of one of those sharp details of narcissistic youth:
“I don’t recognise Rip at first. His face is unnaturally smooth, redone in such a way that the eyes are shocked open with perpetual surprise; it’s a face mimicking a face, and it looks agonised. The lips are too thick. The skin’s too orange. The hair is dyes yellow and carefully gelled. He looks like he’s been quickly dipped in acid; things fell off, skin was removed. It’s almost defiantly grotesque. He’s on drugs, I’m thinking. He has to be on drugs to look like this. Rip’s with a girl so young I mistake her for his daughter but then I remember Rip doesn’t have children. This girl has had so much work done she looks deformed.”