Snotchocheez's Reviews > Imperial Bedrooms

Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis
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Mar 01, 2012

did not like it
Read from March 01 to 02, 2012

As if the infantile devil silhouette (Halloween self-portrait?) on the cover of its paltry 169 pages wasn't a dead giveaway that "imperial Bedrooms", the sequel to BEE's 1985 less-than-stellar "Less than Zero" was going to be a clunker, all I had to do was turn to the last page to see the "1985-2010" designation. This sequel was 25 years in the making!

God, what an insipid, uninspired, self-absorbed, vapid piece of nothingness this was. I vowed after reading his paean to product placement and torture porn "American Psycho" I'd give up trying to understand why BEE has been heralded by many as the consummate capturer of the Zeitgeist of the disaffected. Only an intriguing review by Stephen King enticed me enough to give "Lunar Park" a try, and that novel, unlike his preceding 5, was borderline brilliant. Starting out as a Mea Culpa of sorts for penning banal crap like American Psycho and Glamorama, he uses his penchant for self-absorption to good use by plunking himself in the middle of a truly eerie meta-reality. After finally being won over with "LP", coupled with a glowing review in Entertainment Weekly of "IB", I figured I'd give him another shot. Bad, bad choice. I found this for $1.00 at a local thrift store...and let's just say, I'm seriously contemplating asking for my money back. It's that bad.

Yeah, most of the same cast of substance-abusing, directionless, horny kids of privilege from "LTZ" are back (even one that died in the movie version) except now, 25 years later, are 40-something Gen X'ers tangentially involved in the movie industry. It's revealed early on that one of the principal characters (actually Julian, the one that died in the movie version of "LTZ") is violently killed in murky cicumstances involving, it is hinted at, Mexican drug cartels and the slimy underbelly of the movie- (and money-) making machine. The main character/narrator Clay (who also narrates "LTZ", and is now a screenwriter/movie producer) spends the bulk of this bloated piffle jumping from seemingly every haute restaurant, nitery, and hot spot in Los Angeles meeting up with his LTZ friends and recreating the last days and circumstances that led up to Julian's grizzly demise. Instead of providing a meaty murder mystery, though, BEE (in BEE-like fashion) seems more interested in showing off his insider cred than actually bothering with coherent dialog or plausible plot development.

Some might argue that BEE is most effective in capturing the Zeitgeist of (as Marilyn Manson calls them) "the Beautiful People"; I would contend, though, that in doing so, a writer must be mindful not to alienate the reader with banality. This latest effort of BEE's, which often reads like an incomplete screenplay and half-hearted vanity project rather than a novel, seems like it was sitting in the back of the author's closet, then hastily cobbled together to satisfy a contractual obligation with his publisher.


[and what is up with the title? Is it a prerequisite to enjoying this novel to have foreknowledge that "imperial Bedrooms" is an Elvis Costello album and song from 1982? (a fact that I had to Google as BEE never bothers to explain its significance or relevance to the novel.) (sorry, Elvis fans) Having lived in a rather poor section of LA for over 30 years, I thought at first maybe he was referring to LAs longest east/west thoroughfare, Imperial Highway, a street that runs from bedroom communities in Orange County and dissects LA straight through the skeeziest parts of South Central, and empties out at LAX in Inglewood with a panoply of seedy pay-by-the-hour-esque motels, but that, evidently would give BEE too much imaginative credit: in BEE's insular world, all roads in LA lead to Chateau Marmont, the Sunset Towers, Dan Tana's, Chasen's, Ivy at the Shore, the Getty Museum, Spago, etc. The sad irony is that, chances are, the omnipresent drugs his protagonists surround themselves with probably came ultimately from a drug dealer within a few miles of the real Imperial Hwy, a fact (I'm sure) totally lost on the befogged BEE].
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by Kathy (new)

Kathy I didn't want to read this book before reading your review, now I damn sure don't want to read it.


message 2: by Mike (new) - rated it 1 star

Mike "what an insipid, uninspired, self-absorbed, vapid piece of nothingness this was."

you put it perfectly.


Snotchocheez Thanks, Mike. This "novel" drove me flippin bananas. (and. yet. there were several Goodreads reviewers who gave this "nothingness-pile" four or five stars. Go figure,


message 4: by James (new)

James Thomas Oh look another BEE hater, dude if you didn't like American psycho why pick this book up ? His writing is the same in all his books...


message 5: by Snotchocheez (last edited Jan 19, 2014 04:22PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Snotchocheez I'm not sure why your rude comment bears responding to (given that this book was pretty much universally panned by everyone), but for the sake of argument, do please enlighten me as to why this book intrigued you so (given, as you say, "his writing is the same in all his books"). (i beg to differ, btw, Lunar Park was pretty darn good, and serves as an apologia for the drug soaked name-dropping faux-gore-fest monotony that is American Psycho.) We all have a right to our opinions; strafing mine without appropriate back-up is simply puerile. Have a nice day.


message 6: by James (new)

James Thomas "Faux-gore-fest monstrosity that is American Psycho l" are you serious right now? Explain to me why this is? American Psycho is probably one if the best written descriptions on human nature, and you're calling it a monstrosity?


message 7: by Jane (new)

Jane At least we can agree on this one. Really awful (outright insulting...). But i am surprised at such a long, time consuming & thoughtful review for such an awful book... Hmmmmm


Kelly (and the Book Boar) Amazing review and (although I'm one of BEE's ultimate fangirls) you said everything I thought would be said about a LTZ sequel. It just shouldn't have even been attempted.

With regard to the title, BEE gives tons of shout-outs to Costello. Maybe he wants to wear him as a skinsuit????


Snotchocheez Thank you Kelly! Yeah, spot-on observation: LTZ didn't need a sequel. (I'll bet if you asked BEE, he'd probably agree). Yet he cobbled one together anyway. (It's almost like he was writing this at gunpoint from a drug dealer, looking to get a financial score settled). As this has been his only published novel in over seven years (and there's scant evidence...on IMDB anyway...that he's been busy writing screenplays) I hope he didn't "blow his creative wad" with Lunar Park and give up writing. He's sure to come up with something better than this recycled dreck, anyway.


Kelly (and the Book Boar) Snotchocheez wrote: "It's almost like he was writing this at gunpoint from a drug dealer, looking to get a financial score settled"

I'd say in the case of BEE that this is a VERY likely possibility ; )


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