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Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis
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In the 80’s Brett Easton Ellis and Jay McInerney were the hot new writers commenting on contemporary society through their fiction, sort of the Hemingway and Fitzgerald for Generation X. In the past year both have put out books revisiting their early successes, Ellis with his new “Imperial Bedrooms.”

“Imperial Bedrooms” is Ellis returning to the characters of “Less Than Zero,” I would say this is a nostalgic return to these characters but I don’t think they’re capable of feeling nostalgia or much of anything else. The book opens with Clay, the writer, returning to L.A. to work on a screenplay and he revisits the feelings and after-effects of the success of his first book. It‘s sort of art imitating life imitating art and Ellis keeps pushing and moving the boundary of where real life meets fiction and how it folds in on itself. In the beginning “Imperial Bedrooms” very much has the feel of “Less Than Zero,” you can still feel all the characters ennui as Clay runs into them. As Clay works on his screenplay and attends trendy parties he finds himself being followed by a blue Jeep and embroiled in a mystery. That’s where the novel seems to change in it’s feeling, Ellis moving the story from his style to a standard mystery. Mysteries seem to be the genre du jour and Ellis is trying to exploit that and apply his own brand of existential angst to the genre, but in doing so gives his novel an almost schizophrenic feeling as the last third bears almost no resemblance to the first two-thirds, and when he moves the story into full mystery mode they don‘t even seem like Ellis‘ characters any more.

“Imperial Bedrooms” delves into the darkest of hearts and offers no light at the end of the existential tunnel; Ellis’ L.A. is a blackhole where no light can escape. This is the L.A., the city of night created by John Rechy or Jim Morrison. I’ve never been one to demand the “Hollywood Ending” to literature or movies, but Ellis’ characters in “Imperial Bedrooms” are beyond redemption and have no way out, even Jim Morrison was waiting for the dawn.

Earlier this year Jay McInerney published “How It Ended” a book short stories that revisits his early successes. Though McInerney’s journey is more nostalgic it reinforces his stature as one of the best literary writers of contemporary fiction. I don’t think “Imperial Bedrooms” does the same for Brett Easton Ellis.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
June 15, 2010 – Finished Reading
June 16, 2010 – Shelved

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message 1: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim Cherry Thank you Steven!
I think it is one of my better reviews, even in rereading it!


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