A dark, smothering, disturbing, downward spiral into hell.
Jul 19, 2004
Written in clear, simple, matter-of-fact prose, Less Than Zero, is a chillingly disturbing and hair-raising novel that hones in specifically on L.A.'s edgy, filthy and unrepentant subculture, where booze, drugs, hustling, casual, empty sex, shallow values as well as violence-both physically and visually-are the norm. It is a subculture of pills, plastic surgery, 'laboratory' or 'Frankenstein' created perfection, spiritual vacuousness, fatalistic/lobotomized acceptance or indifference of anything and everything are neatly meshed together with a wad of cash acting as a decorative bow. The novel revolves around Clay, a young man on summer break from college in New Hampshire. Visiting his financially well-to-do family, he decides to 'reconnect' with some of his school friends and girlfriend, Blair-the very latter a brainwashed drone to the excessive frivolities that only L.A. can offer. After getting into the inner sanctum of his friend's lives, Clay gets acclimatized (with the aid of drugs, among other things) to their jaded perceptions and their uppish, arrogant world view of, "This is how it is, man. What planet are you from?" attitude. As time progresses, Clay unwittingly begins to mirror the very people-with all their dangeriously luxuriant excesses-whom he fears and despises. What is even worse is that his family and home life is no refuge either from the dizzying despair that is slowly enveloping him, for his home life is as equally terrible as what he's trying to flee from; his only form of escapism is marijuana, cocaine, sex, partying and booze, all of which temporarily act as a kind of fake portal to the untouched nether reaches (so he believes) of his mind or his soul. But bit by bit, that too slowly gets chipped away at, and what is beyond that is too terrifying to imagine. Clay's only saving grace is a quiet moment of introspection at Topanga Canyon, where, "...I could hear the wind moving through the canyons...A coyote howled...I had been home a long time." (P. 207). Silence was his saving grace, for it forever imprinted upon his mind all that he experienced; it was the catalyst that set him free: "There was a song I heard when I was in Los Angeles by a local group. The song was called "Los Angeles" and the words and images were so harsh and bitter that the song would reverberate in my mind for days. The images, I later found out, were personal and no one I knew shared them. The images I had were of people being driven mad by living in the city. Images of parents who were so hungry and unfulfilled that they ate their own children. Images of people, teenagers my own age, looking up from the asphalt and being blinded by the sun. These images stayed with me even after I left the city. Images so violent and malicious that they seemed to be my only point of reference for a long time afterwards..." (P.208). They say that the globe has many, many war zones. Los Angeles would definitely be included.
Written in clear, simple, matter-of-fact prose, Less Than Zero, is a chillingly disturbing and hair-raising novel that hones in specifically on L.A.'s edgy, filthy and unrepentant subculture, where booze, drugs, hustling, casual, empty sex, shallow values as well as violence-both physically and visually-are the norm. It is a subculture of pills, plastic surgery, 'laboratory' or 'Frankenstein' created perfection, spiritual vacuousness, fatalistic/lobotomized acceptance or indifference … more
Bret Easton Ellis is a master of depicting the vast emptiness that can come with too much privilege and not enough soul. I've also read "American Psycho" and "Glamorama", and there is definitely a common thread running through all three novels. People are searching for fulfillment in all the wrong places, and are digging themselves into deeper holes of despair. One of the darkest satirists out there, Ellis injects humor here and there, but his stories are mostly about people you really wouldn't … more
Written when the author was 20, this first novel tells the story of Clay, a New Hampshire college student who returns home to Los Angeles for Christmas vacation. Vignettes show Clay and his friends aimlessly traveling from party to party, doing drugs, having sex with one another. PW noted that Ellis "brilliantly conveys this crowd's delirium as well as the lack of fulfillment they cannot remedy." Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.