Author Topic: Bret Easton Ellis  (Read 14230 times)

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children with angels

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Bret Easton Ellis
« on: June 17, 2003, 08:59:29 AM »
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There've been some hints here and there that there are some fans around (most recently, Jokerspath's signature), so I thought I'd start a thread...

I've only read American Psycho, Rules of Attraction and Glamorama - Glamorama being one of my favourite books of all time (anyone who loves movies should read that book).

I think he's a brilliant postmodern writer: I love how he's so casually symbolic, the way that things don't necessarily have specific meanings, or reasons for happening, but they just come together and feel so right in the end - he reminds me a little of Lynch in that way, though not quite as abstract.

Thought we could discuss the movies too. I thought American Psycho was a very fun, interesting version of the book: completely different, but that's okay - made it into much more of a comic satire rather than a vicious one, and - importantly - kept it all very uncool. Rules Of Attraction was okay for what it was, but was just far too high on itself to actually grasp the philosophy behind Ellis' writing. (Worryingly, Glamorama is presently in production with Roger Avary directing again. If he makes a shitty movie out of that wonderful book I'm going to be really pissed of: that book has the potential to make an INCREDIBLE film, what with all the fun the writer and director could have playing round with filmic conventions, etc...) Haven't seen Less Than Zero yet - want to wait till I've read the book.

So anyway - what does anyone think of the guy?
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Cecil

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Re: Bret Easton Ellis
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2003, 09:26:32 AM »
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im a fan. less than zero is a great book, the movie is completely different, but i enjoy it for what it is.

and rules of attraction is a great, great film. an excessive film about the excess of college. and everyone who thinks otherwise is a fool  :twisted:

children with angels

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Re: Bret Easton Ellis
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2003, 10:04:24 AM »
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I don't know - I thought Rules was too cool by half. It felt like it could have been made by a talented film student at that college, rather than someone who had seen that life then grown up and away from it and was judging it with distance from the outside (as Ellis was)... It felt a little superficial, and not in a way that commented on the lives of these kids, but in a way that made itself into a movie that these kids might watch and love. I enjoyed it, but for very different reasons than the book.

But I don't want this to be another Rules of Attraction thread - what did you think of Glamorama, Cecil? Apparently the sped-up Europe bit with Victor in Rules was pre-production footage for Glamorama. Considering that part was my absolute favourite bit of the movie (which I felt captured Ellis' prose style and outlook pretty damn well), maybe it'll be good after all...
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jokerspath

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Re: Bret Easton Ellis
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2003, 10:19:29 AM »
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Quote from: children with angels
It felt like it could have been made by a talented film student at that college, rather than someone who had seen that life then grown up and away from it and was judging it with distance from the outside (as Ellis was)


If I'm not mistaken, Mr. Ellis was only about 23 when Rules Of Attraction was published, which doesn't seem like too much of a distance, especially if you take in to fact how long it may have taken to get the book published...

I enjoyed the hell out of Less Than Zero (never seen the movie version).  

American Psycho took me a second time to fully appreciate it, having expected a gory, twisted read.  Instead, I got, after trying a second time, a gory, twisted, incredibly sharp, whip-smart, satirical, and hysterically funny (at times) novel.  Then the movie came out.  It took me a few times to fully enjoy that, but I do love what Harron/Turner did with the film, which is to present as much of all the angles of the original work as they could, complete w/ a terrific cast and some nice camera work.  

I'd like to read everything (Informers, Glamorama, the random story about cocaine in some anthology) to get the full overview.  I definitely enjoy his work.  I like 'em detached...

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Sigur Rós

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Re: Bret Easton Ellis
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2003, 10:26:52 AM »
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Quote from: cecil b. demented
and rules of attraction is a great, great film. an excessive film about the excess of college. and everyone who thinks otherwise is a fool  :twisted:


Well slap me in my ass and call me a fool! I didn't know you were a fascist..... :wink:

children with angels

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Re: Bret Easton Ellis
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2003, 10:33:39 AM »
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Quote from: jokerspath
Quote from: children with angels
It felt like it could have been made by a talented film student at that college, rather than someone who had seen that life then grown up and away from it and was judging it with distance from the outside (as Ellis was)


If I'm not mistaken, Mr. Ellis was only about 23 when Rules Of Attraction was published, which doesn't seem like too much of a distance, especially if you take in to fact how long it may have taken to get the book published...


I see your point, but he is obviously standing very much on the outside looking in, whereas I felt like the style and tone of the movie was much more closely involved. As you say so correctly, "I like 'em detatched".

You should definitely read Glamorama: you'll love it...
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godardian

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Re: Bret Easton Ellis
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2003, 11:08:07 AM »
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I've only read Less Than Zero... I've been told over and over again that I should read Rules of Attraction, as the book apparently has a moment of boy-boy romance with apropos background noise courtesy The Smiths, which should be right up my alley. However... I've not been a huge fan of Ellis's. I mean, that's really just why, too: He'll name-check the cool bands, just like Douglas Coupland (who named a whole novel after a Smiths song), but they seem to have had a hard time turning themselves from Gen-X pop-culture babies into real novelists.

I need to read more, but I thought Less than Zero got pretty overestimated. It's a good sensationalist-ennui teen novel, but not great literature.

I loved the film of American Psycho, though I'm still nervous about reading the book. I just liked Rules of Attraction, the movie.

One day, I'll read more Ellis... but so far, I prefer Rick Moody. And Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections has a lot more to say topically about contemporary American society, while still maintaining a high degree of timelessness.
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jokerspath

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Re: Bret Easton Ellis
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2003, 11:49:09 AM »
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Quote from: godardian
I loved the film of American Psycho, though I'm still nervous about reading the book.


Nervous about not liking it or nervous about it being too graphic?

By the way, has anyone read any Dennis Cooper, specifically Frisk?  That'd get my vote as most graphic material I've ever read...

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children with angels

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Re: Bret Easton Ellis
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2003, 11:58:47 AM »
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Quote from: godardian
I thought Less than Zero got pretty overestimated. It's a good sensationalist-ennui teen novel, but not great literature.


Well, I haven't read it, but you have to remember that Ellis was only, like, nineteen when he wrote that. His later stuff, Glamorama and American Psycho in particular, are very mature novels in their own way.

The name-checking of the "cool bands" he does is certainly not without a large dose of irony. It's done with a tone that walks a very fine line between cynicism and sincerity. I mean, you read Glamorama and the entire book pretty much has a soundtrack, to the point where it just becomes obscene. There are lists that go on for pages of musicians and filmmakers and actors who vary between the cool, the pathetic and the genius: they're all just lumped in together in a melting pot of modern pop culture until you're just not sure what his opinion of any of them is. He's mocking himself at the same time as he's celebrating things he truly admires.

I've only read The Ice Storm by Moody - because of my extreme love for the movie - and didn't love it. I'd be willing to read more though - and I can see the similarity between him and Ellis certainly: the coldness, the detatchment.

Haven't read any Franzen, but your recommendation makes me think I should.
Anyone read any DeLillo (someone Ellis cites as his major influence)?
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Pedro

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Re: Bret Easton Ellis
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2003, 12:13:26 PM »
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Quote from: children with angels

Anyone read any DeLillo (someone Ellis cites as his major influence)?

Im reading White Noise right now...not far into it but it's pretty good so far.  I'll post my full review after I'm done.

I've read The Rules of Attraction and American Psycho and I have to say that I enjoy both of them tremendously.  I think American Psycho is the better book but Rules of Attraction was a more "fun" read.  My only problem with AP would be the 6 page each reviews of Genesis and Hey Lewis' careers.  Now, I understand the humor in all of it....I "Get" it.  It's just all of that is not terribly interesting.  And i guess that might really be the  point of it...to be completely riddiculous.  

Anyway, both are great and recommended.  I haven't seen the movie version of Rules of Attraction yet....I'm interested as to how they do the whole "Victor's European Vacation" bit.

children with angels

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Re: Bret Easton Ellis
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2003, 12:20:31 PM »
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Quote from: Pedro the Wombat
i guess that might really be the  point of it...to be completely ridiculous.


Yeah, it is! But don't you think it's also almost even a little sinister...?! That his mind is so taken up with these tiny insignificant details about the career of Phil Collins and Whitney Huston - that he's so empty and yet speaks about a song being "the most beautiful and moving lament to love and monogamy I have ever heard" (or something to that effect). I find it kinda disturbing - particularly when I'm the kind of person (as we all here are) who does memorize those kind of facts about the music/film we love, and could wax lyrical about them for hours...

I've got White Noise on my bookshelf right now - I've been meaning to read it for ages...
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jokerspath

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Re: Bret Easton Ellis
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2003, 12:25:08 PM »
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Quote from: godardian
One day, I'll read more Ellis... but so far, I prefer Rick Moody.


I really enjoyed The Ice Storm, but I picked up the Garden State and did not like it at all.  He must've gained mountains of talent in between those two books.  He has some kind of anthology of his short stories that I was thinking of picking up...

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children with angels

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Re: Bret Easton Ellis
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2003, 12:28:05 PM »
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Quote from: jokerspath
By the way, has anyone read any Dennis Cooper, specifically Frisk?  That'd get my vote as most graphic material I've ever read...


Seriously? More graphic than American Psycho? Wow! I can't imagine any more intricately detailed, sickening violence than the stuff you get in American Psycho... Does he mix the sex and the violence like Ellis does too? (I'm trying not sound like a perverted sick fuck here with my interest, but it's difficult...!)
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Pedro

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Re: Bret Easton Ellis
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2003, 12:31:29 PM »
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Quote from: children with angels
Quote from: Pedro the Wombat
i guess that might really be the  point of it...to be completely ridiculous.


Yeah, it is! But don't you think it's also almost even a little sinister...?! That his mind is so taken up with these tiny insignificant details about the career of Phil Collins and Whitney Huston - that he's so empty and yet speaks about a song being "the most beautiful and moving lament to love and monogamy I have ever heard" (or something to that effect). I find it kinda disturbing - particularly when I'm the kind of person (as we all here are) who does memorize those kind of facts about the music/film we love, and could wax lyrical about them for hours...

I've got White Noise on my bookshelf right now - I've been meaning to read it for ages...

Oh you've nailed it exactly.  And I got what you did.  I mean I understood and I laughed at how riddiculous all of it was...it was just not um, easy to really read.  For the exact reasons that it's brilliant.  It's so useless and droning.  This provides dark humor and insight into his character, but it's just not the most interesting thing to read....

But not that I think of it...it is interesting to read...I've changed my opinion...

*sigh* I need to read that book again.

!!!LITERARY TECHNIQUE SPOILER!!!
I absolutely love how he switches into third person narration near the end.   Oh! and when he ends in mid sentence....really fitting for all his insanity.
I didn't like it that much in Rules of Attraction, though...but I guess it functioned as sort of saying "this is life...things have come before it and things will come after it....this book just offers part of many lives"....i dontknow....I know what I'm trying to say....Children with Angels...help maybe?

jokerspath

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Re: Bret Easton Ellis
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2003, 12:33:18 PM »
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Quote from: children with angels
That his mind is so taken up with these tiny insignificant details about the career of Phil Collins and Whitney Huston - that he's so empty and yet speaks about a song being "the most beautiful and moving lament to love and monogamy I have ever heard" (or something to that effect). I find it kinda disturbing - particularly when I'm the kind of person (as we all here are) who does memorize those kind of facts about the music/film we love, and could wax lyrical about them for hours...


This is a good point as well.  The guy wants to be so goddamned cool, you can just see him memorizing these essays on music, or full Zagat reviews.  I haven't read the book in a few years, but I specifically am recalling an early scene in the film where Patrick's fiancee brings him to a restaurant where he responds to a coworker/friend's rant [Brice, maybe?] with an equally empty and non-sensical tirade in the name of justice blalhbalhbalhb.  

The characters are empty, their identities can be swapped at will, they're nameless WASPs running the city, trying to have an identity, trying to be cool.  They want...to fit...in.

I love that book...

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