This novel could have been really something but it turned into a real dog’s breakfast. Crap all over the place. What a mess.
Reading Lunar Park was liThis novel could have been really something but it turned into a real dog’s breakfast. Crap all over the place. What a mess.
Reading Lunar Park was like watching one of those jovial interviews with major serial killers you can find on youtube. The reporter is alarmed/mortified/astonished to find himself quite liking this monster who slaughtered 17 human beings. You get this kind of dialogue -
- Hey Jeff, can you explain a little what would be going through your mind when you were drilling holes in those guys’ heads to make them into sex zombies? - Oh, you know, pretty much the same that would be going through your mind when you’re trying to finish a tricky bit of DIY, John. - Aw, that so, Jeff? - Yeah, pretty much, John! (they laugh ruefully.)
For the first 40 pages, Lunar Park sideswipes you with what appears to be a truthful rueful autobiographical account of BEE’s own life and career. Then it veers off into pure fiction when this version of Bret marries a famous movie star and winds up playing father to her two children. This first part is lots of fun. BEE portrays himself as a charming disarming kinda coke-guzzling drug-snorting alcoholic stumbling foggily through his revoltingly affluent day with attendant wife, kids, servants and girlfriend.
I was intrigued. I was thinking : Bret, where are you going with all this? It kept me turning the pages, and they were very easy to read, and even quite funny. At this point the book appeared to be three things at the same time
- A psychodrama about fathers and sons, laced with sadness - A light amusing satire of very rich parents, with every damn kid in the neighbourhood medicated up to the maximum legally permitted - An increasingly vicious hateful self-portrait, circling brilliantly and fascinatingly around the psychological black hole that is American Psycho
But then it shimmies into a fourth thing which takes the rest of the story over and this is where the book drives over the cliff and smashes to bits on the rocks below, as it becomes a lame Stephen King story, or, since I’ve never read one of SK’s supernatural books, I should say, what I imagine rather contemptuously to be something SK might come up with : fiction written by the main character “Bret Easton Ellis” starts to come to life! Yes – it seems that Patrick Bateman himself has been freed from American Psycho and is stalking the pages of Lunar Park, and up to his old tricks too.
Yawny-yawn yawn yawnioh ho hmmmm.
Oh , also, we get the device of a child’s toy which (also) comes to life and turns homicidal. This takes up the last half of this novel.
How many times have these two devices been used before in horror fiction?
Bret, was that the best you could come up with?
By page 390 Bret is channeling Ghostbusters! And a little later, An American Werewolf in London!
HOW THIS NOVEL COULD HAVE BEEN GREAT
Throughout this long tale, the fictional BEE is haunted by the even more fictional Patrick Bateman. Just as, I guess, the real BEE is haunted by his own misogynistic horror of a novel. Here he is on page 181, not wanting to think about American Psycho :
I closed my eyes again. I did not want to go back to that book. It had been about my father (his rage, his obsession with status, his loneliness), whom I had transformed into a fictional serial killer… I had moved past the casual carnage that was so prevalent in the books I’d conceived in my twenties, past the severed heads and the soup made of blood and the woman [er, let’s skip that sentence]… Exploring that kind of violence had been “interesting” and “exciting” and it was all “metaphorical” anyway – at least to me at that moment of my life, when I was young and pissed off… I was “transgressive” and the book was really about “style”
When (in Lunar Park) it seems that some crazy guy is pretending to be Patrick Bateman and copying each murder from American Psycho, BEE comments:
This was the moment that detractors of the book had warned me about : if anything happens to anyone as a result of the publication of this novel, Bret Easton Ellis was to blame… and that’s why the National Organisation of Women had boycotted the book… I thought the idea was laughable – that there was no one as insane or vicious as this fictional character out there in the real world. Besides, Patrick Bateman was a notoriously unreliable narrator, and if you actually read the book you could come away doubting that these crimes ever occurred. There were large hints that they existed only in Bateman’s mind. The murders and torture were in fact fantasies fueled by his rage and fury about how life in America was structured and how this had trapped him. The fantasies were an escape. This was the book’s thesis. It was about manners and mores, not about cutting up women. How could anyone who read the book not see this?
I appreciated that this all sounds like a desperate attempt by BEE to convince himself that he had not written a horrible misogynistic novel. (And is the explanation adopted by AP's many fans). Now – if Lunar Park had continued to probe this clearly-still-open wound within BEE, and maybe ask why, in describing BEE’s father’s rage, or Patrick Bateman’s fury at how life in America was structured, it had to be demonstrated through the torture and dismemberment of women, and not by some other means (say, planting bombs in subways – there are many ways to express a general rage), then we would have got something fascinating. But it was not to BEE. Instead, a lot of supernatural malarkey which – once again – is all about BEE’s relationship with his father and (fictional) son. In other words, it’s all about him. What a narcissist.
TWO AND A HALF STARS
I liked the satire, I liked the sudden-left-turn weirdness (until it became ridiculous), it wasn’t boring at all. It was stupid (for all its preening intelligence) but it wasn’t dull.
YELLOW LEGAL PADS
a yellow legal pad that she would mark up and casually refer back to (p288)
What is it with Americans and their yellow legal pads? If I had £1 (=$1.23) for each time somebody uses a yellow legal pad in an American novel I could afford that world cruise. Don’t they ever come in any other colour? No blue legal pads? Always yellow? Always legal?
This is about as good as a history of the Oscars could be. Each year has a summary of the comedy highlights of the ceremony (oh the boycotts and the sThis is about as good as a history of the Oscars could be. Each year has a summary of the comedy highlights of the ceremony (oh the boycotts and the suppressed rage) and then half a page on the main Oscars with sidebars featuring: - essential firsts : for instance Cabaret won the most Oscars (8) without winning Best Picture - Sins of Omission - movies and performances overlooked by the idiots at the Academy - Role Reversals : Tom Hanks in American Beauty?? Harrison Ford in Big ???) - Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride : Peter O'Toole, who received his first nomination for Best Actor 44 years ago, set a record for the most years between nominations in that category... - he's had 8 nominations and no wins, ah well. - Unmentionables, which is just a lot of vicious gossip and funny quotes - “My wife doesn’t get jealous,” revealed Jeremy irons “when she sees me in sex scenes she says to herself ‘Oh he is only acting, I know he can’t last that long’”
HAVE YOU NOTICED HOW MANY TIMES THEY DISH OUT OSCARS TO ACTORS PLAYING PHYSICALLY OR MENTALLY DISABLED PEOPLE?
These are just from recent years:
Jamie Foxx in Ray Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind Angelina Jolie in Girl interrupted Geoffrey Rush in Shine Nicholas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas Holly Hunter in The Piano Al pacino in Scent of a Woman Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man Marlee Matlin in Children of a Lesser God And the list goes on
On Page 287 there is a handy list of Oscar winning hookers – Hollywood just loves them
Anne Baxter in The Razor’s Edge Claire Trevor in Key Largo Donna Reed in From Here to Eternity Jo van Fleet in East of Eden Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8 Shirley Jones in Elmer Gantry Jane Fonda in Klute Mira Sorvino in Mighty Aphrodite Not to mention Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman who was nominated but did not win
RIGHT OSCAR, WRONG FILM
Then I could list the many Oscars given to actors for the wrong film – this is where they were trying to make up for previous omissions. Such as John Wayne in True Grit. I mean, John Wayne in The Searchers, maybe, but never in True Grit, beating Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy! As if.
BEST PICTURE OSCARS : BLIMEY, WHAT WERE THEY THINKING OF?
The Academy very often goes for the big billowy family friendly feature with scintillating posture and top notch cultural value spritzed all over it like spray on tan. Here are some Best Pictures I would like to REMOVE and the ones I would like them to be replaced by since 1965 :
1965 : The Sound of Music Repulsion 1973 : The Sting Badlands 1976: Rocky Taxi Driver 1980 : Ordinary People Raging Bull 1982 : Gandhi ET 1985 : Out of Africa Brazil 1988: Rain man Mississippi Burning 1989 : Driving Miss Daisy Born on the Fourth of July 1994 : Forrest gump Pulp Fiction 1995 : Braveheart Babe the Gallant Pig 2000: Gladiator You can Count on Me 2005 : Crash Brokeback Mountain 2010: The King’s Speech True Grit
So, this book is recommended for all film fans.
"Oh my God. Oh my God. I'm sorry. This moment is so much bigger than me."...more
Featuring a like-to-put-you-off-your-dinner parade of maggots, bin soup (you don’t wanna think too much about what that might be), doggy doo bags whicFeaturing a like-to-put-you-off-your-dinner parade of maggots, bin soup (you don’t wanna think too much about what that might be), doggy doo bags which can burst when the truck is compacting them, animal corpses (some with no heads), used condoms, diaper bombs, perfectly good chairs, stacks of porn and the occasional piano, this memoir of Backderf’s two years as a garbageman is justly vicious about our western lifestyle’s addiction to using everything up and throwing everything away and thus befouling our own living space, but he offers no easy green solutions either; although naturally he says “the Scandinavians” do recycling much better (it’ll be those pesky Swedes again making the rest of us look bad). The way Derf tells it, it would take a total revolution, like, you know, the abolition of capitalism, to allow us to produce less poisonous crap, and that’s not going to happen. And by the way he points out that rich people produce more garbage per person than poor people do.
I got this because I loved My Friend Dahmer and it’s almost just as good. Also – there’s a connection between the two subjects. Can you guess what might connect Jeffrey Dahmer with Derf’s life as a refuse collector? Aw, I see you are ahead of me …
Jeff butchered the body of his first victim… he bagged up the remains and set them out for the trash collectors! It was just a few months before I climbed on the back of the truck. Creepy, huh?
Yes, quite creepy.
There is much revolting fun to be had with Trashed. It could have done with a scratch ‘n’ sniff page but you can’t have everything.
Well, this is more like it! A grim, propulsive story, a weird and kind of loveable murderer, a sharp, poignant light shone on an obscure period of hum Well, this is more like it! A grim, propulsive story, a weird and kind of loveable murderer, a sharp, poignant light shone on an obscure period of human suffering (Scottish crofting), a meticulous picture of what real human oppression looks like from the ground up, a meaty villain who so deserved what was coming to him, a beautiful investigation into what it is or is not to be of sound mind, what I am trying to say is that I liked this immoderately.
So therefore, may I say, without any further untoward prevarication or flummery, and just to be absolutely crystal clear, this novel is recommended. And I hardly ever say that, being something of an old grouch.
That’s the review, this is just an observation. The novel is presented in the form of a series of “genuine” historical documents – the prisoner’s confession, the medical reports, the account of the trial, etc. Movies which do this are called “found footage” movies, I think it began with Cannibal Holocaust in 1980 and then the big one was The Blair Witch Project and it’s become a cliché now, particularly in horror films, like Paranormal Activity, [Rec], Cloverfield, District 19 – but of course “found document” novels have been there from the beginning of novels – in the form of letters, usually, like Samuel Richardson’s Pamela (1740) and more elaborately in Dracula (1897) which has newspaper reports, diary entries and letters. Movies could only catch up with novels when ordinary people could get hold of the technology. Last year, a well-reviewed movie called Tangerine was shot entirely on an iPhone. ...more
NEFF I wish you'd tell me what's engraved on that anklet.
PHYLLIS Just my name.
NEFF As for instance?
NEFF Phyllis. I think I like th NEFF I wish you'd tell me what's engraved on that anklet.
PHYLLIS Just my name.
NEFF As for instance?
NEFF Phyllis. I think I like that.
PHYLLIS But you're not sure?
NEFF I'd have to drive it around the block a couple of times.
PHYLLIS There's a speed limit in this state, Mr. Neff. Forty-five miles an hour.
NEFF How fast was I going, officer?
PHYLLIS I'd say about ninety.
NEFF Suppose you get down off your motorcycle and give me a ticket.
PHYLLIS Suppose I let you off with a warning this time.
NEFF Suppose it doesn't take.
PHYLLIS Suppose I have to whack you over the knuckles.
NEFF Suppose I bust out crying and put my head on your shoulder.
This itty bitty 69 page book explains how Billy Wilder hired Raymond Chandler to co-write the script which took James M Cain’s magazine serial and blowtorched it into something delicate, delicious and dangerous. It wasn’t an easy process:
One day Chandler did not appear for work. Instead he delivered an ultimatum scribbled on a yellow legal pad. It was a list of Wilder’s offences against decorum, and the novelist demanded that the director forswear all of them, including peremptory demands unaccompanied by the word “please”, that Chandler close an open door or adjust the Venetian blinds
Chandler’s final assessment of his gig with Billy :
[It was] an agonizing experience, and has probably shortened my life, but I learned from it as much about screen writing as I am capable, which is not much. ...more
I had thought all you needed to know about Jeffrey Dahmer was in 1) The Shrine of Jeffrey Dahmer by Brian Masters 2) A Father’s Story by Lionel Dahmer 3)I had thought all you needed to know about Jeffrey Dahmer was in 1) The Shrine of Jeffrey Dahmer by Brian Masters 2) A Father’s Story by Lionel Dahmer 3) The Stone Phillips interview with Mr and Mrs Dahmer and Jeffrey available on youtube But now comes this peculiar addition, a graphic novel about the author’s friendship (kind of) with JD during his high school years at Eastview Junior High School in Bath, Ohio. This was the kind of friendship where a group of guys fairly low down in the social hierarchy adopt a mascot even lower down and more despised than they are. Jeffrey was the freak they adopted. What made him a freak at the age of 15 and 16?
He threw fake epileptic fits and mimicked the slurred speech and spastic tics of someone with cerebral palsy
He would do this in the cafeteria or in the corridors in order to entertain his classmates, who otherwise entirely ignored him.
Looking back on it know, knowing what we know, it seems incomprehensible that Dahmer could get away with such bizarre behavior. But it’s not as if he was the only freak at school.
Backderf develops his argument very carefully and convincingly – Jeffrey Dahmer fairly quickly went completely insane when he was a teenager and there was no adult intervention, because in those days, adults did not take any notice of kids. They would see right through them. The parents were involved in their own bitter fighting, which ended in a very nasty divorce. The teachers (some of whom were young stoners like the students) either turned a blind eye or were oblivious to Jeff’s weird behavior and also the fact that he was mostly drunk at school (he had no problem getting hold of alcohol).
So when Jeff was 18 the father left the house, then the mother left with the younger brother, and Jeff was all alone. No friends now, having left high school. Father moved back to the house in a couple of months. As the devil makes work for idle hands, that’s when Jeff killed his first young male, who was a hitch-hiker, on 15 June 1978.
Backderf illustrates an incident which happened three days later, when Jeff was trying to dispose of the corpse. The cops stopped Jeff in the middle of the night while he had bags containing the remains in the back of the car smelling to high heaven. Instead of taking a look at the offending items, and making a grisly discovery, the cops gave Jeff a sobriety test and a citation for drifting over the centre line. Just imagine, they could have saved the lives of Jeff’s next sixteen victims, but again, the adults of Bath, Ohio weren’t paying any kind of attention.
This subject is extremely lurid but My Friend Dahmer is sober and thoughtful. At the heart of the story is the problem that you really never do know what’s happening with your son, your friend, your brother, your husband, your colleague, your boss, your father, your sister, your mother, your partner. As the Chiffons sang in May 1965, when Jeff was 5 years old
Nobody knows what’s going on in my mind but me ...more