Matt Furillo's Reviews > Lunar Park

Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis
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Jan 09, 11

Read from January 03 to 09, 2011

** spoiler alert ** I know many people dislike Ellis and what he does in/with his books, but I am not one of those people. And I understand why, because of the self indulgence and the faceless characters and the shock-for-the-sake-of-shock and the supposed immorality and etc etc. Something, though, clicks with me and his writing. I get where he is coming from, I'm not sure how or why but I do and it has to do with me as a person, but I'm not sure in what way.

"Lunar Park" starts off in one of the most disgusting ways I think is possible. It is hard to read, it goes on and on within the space of 20 pages and I couldn't get past it for a good couple years. It details Ellis' supposed celebrity life after "Less Than Zero," in which you find out about the orgies and the drugs and the girlfriends and the boyfriends and the distant father and the red carpets and the interviews and the MTV hosting gigs and the graduation parties (Madonna was there, cast of St. Elmo's Fire was there, etc etc etc) and the awful breakups on his part and the passing out and the vomiting into a trash can while being bed ridden for a week straight during an insane world tour promoting one of his books while on a similarly insane heroin binge that should have killed him.

Most of this and probably all of this isn't true, aside from the fact that he was indeed mildly famous and had girlfriends (/boyfriends?) and was part of a literary Brat Pack and did indeed write all the books he mentions. "American Psycho" did happen (the book being written, anyway -- although "Lunar Park" wants you to believe for awhile that it could also have happened in real life too) and the accusations (he's sexist, immoral, an asshole) also did happen which are a part of the novel as well.

Distance yourself from it while not taking it so seriously. Casually read it from afar. It becomes kind of funny, it becomes actually pretty fun. The way he flirts with real life facts and merges them with this mindfuck of a fake celebrity life as though it actually happened is funny, and amusing. He reaches for the stars and doesn't care if you're left behind.

The beginning of the book is so intense and disgusting that it's easy to forget there's a proper novel about Bret settling down and living with his new family in suburbia while being haunted by ghosts (or demons, or "American Psycho" characters, or) ahead. And it's well written too, and it's scary, and it still flirts with real life facts and makes a lot of knowing, almost cute critiques on suburban culture. Some chapters are so far removed from the excess we all know Bret for that it is disorienting. One chapter in particular (the third, titled "Morning") is almost adorable in its descriptions and words said by Bret and his newly acquainted family. After a few chapters you begin to see him as an almost timid, forgiving guy who just wants to make his family proud (even if he knows, and we know, that he will never be that person).

What follows is a fun and readable horror/mystery where new murders and findings and toys coming alive keep piling up, with some possible answers here and there constantly being disproven by various characters and actions. Build up and no release the entire way, and an ever growing sense of dread. After the beginning it's hard to buy that Bret can possibly be a character who is so easily scared and manipulated, so easily vulnerable, which is one of the novel's more minor flaws. If and when you do buy into it, that he can really be this scared about what is basically his sorta-daughter's furby doll coming alive (which it does, uhm, a lot), among other things, the novel can definitely be paralyzing with its urgent sense of paranoia and dread.

It sometimes sags and goes on for longer than needed, but mostly is a neatly packaged page turner. The horror and terror episodes continue until the last few incredibly brief chapters, in which a lot is said about the importance of familial relations in such a deep and beautiful way it nearly brought me to tears. The little confrontation at a McDonald's was beautifully written and handled, and it added depth to the novel that wasn't there for the last two hundred pages.

Not the best book in the world, not even the best book by Bret. In fact, for a supposed genre novel ("horror," and who knows if it really is a genre novel in the end) it's not going to convince anyone that he's the next (name of famous horror author). But surprising, quietly moving, and perhaps exhausting, "Lunar Park" is a novel I won't forget about anytime soon.

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Quotes Matt Liked

Bret Easton Ellis
“Look how black the sky is, the writer said. I made it that way.”
Bret Easton Ellis, Lunar Park

Bret Easton Ellis
“When we sat down to eat I took inventory of the people in the room, and the remnants of my good mood evaporated when I realized how very little I had in common with them – the career dads, the responsible and diligent moms – and I was soon filled with dread and loneliness. I locked in on the smug feeling of superiority that married couples give off and that permeated the air – the shared assumptions, the sweet and contented apathy, it all lingered everywhere – despite the absence in the room of anyone single at which to aim this.”
Bret Easton Ellis, Lunar Park

Reading Progress

01/04/2011 page 64
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