Well, prepare to be even more jealous: that was his second book. His first one was published when he was 21! He was still in college when they made it into a movie. I know: sickening really...
I don't care how young Ellis was when he wrote it, Less Than Zero did less than nothing for me. I couldn't understand why I was reading about such one-dimensional, pathetic, annoying poeple. I suppose Ellis was going for just that: a portrait of how pathetic, one-dimensional, and annoying those times and people were....but others who write in that general way do it with so much more depth and resonance (DeLillo and Franzen are two excellent examples, btw).
On the contrary, I thought American Psycho (the film, did not read the novel) really had its moments. I'd rewatch it.
BTW, Ghostboy and godardian are right: The Corrections has no "hero." In fact, it'd be non-sensical for it to have one. Like Magnolia, The Corrections is about how every family/individual/group is flawed and how individuals within those groups compensate for the flaws fostered upon them by those around them.
Also, I'd describe Alfred as tragi-comic. His deterioration is both terrible in its certainty and funny in that his outlook on his own demise is so matter-of-fact. He's such a fully drawn character...the most realistic of the book's people.
One last thing: putting a loved one in a nursing home is always a blessing and curse for those who opt to do so. I know first-hand. When a person deteriorates, those left behind feel obliged to go on with life; similarly, they often feel that's what the person they've left to the care of others would have wanted. From Alfred's perspective, it may be a prison sentence...but it's a sentence that serves to release his family from what he was and has become.