Bret Easton Ellis
Random House, 320 pp.
No rest for the wicked. Such is the homily that Bret Easton Ellis preaches in his masochistic, woeful new novel Lunar Park. Turns out that celebrity is a curse after all those elevated to minor deities in the public eye inhabit shaky terrain, and when they fall from grace, they often leave a bloody stain on the ground.
Ellis, whose American Psycho turned him into the brainstem of the post-80s literary zeitgeist, has seen his subsequent works (the dreadful Informers and sadistic Glamorama) go relatively unnoticed.
Lunar Park tantalizes us with an Ellis biography within an Ellis novel. The narrator is Ellis himself, whose real life becomes synthesized with a fictional one. Seems poor Bret cant handle his new position as rich father to a long-neglected son, Robby whose life he has only entered recently and husband to beautiful, rich actress Jayne. He tries to act the family man, although keep in mind that these are very rich people were talking about, preoccupied with fashion and trinkets, whose kids are on as many antidepressants as they are. Mysterious things begin to occur around their home, mirroring Elliss past and fiction. Eventually these supernatural forces become malevolent, and its up to Bret and some ghostbusters to put everything in its proper place. Oh, and there are some missing boys and murders copied out of American Psycho, too. Its Stephen Kings The Dark Half smeared with more guts and drugs.
The structure of this novel must be seen to be believed. It alone would crush the novel. Theres no play between author and imitator, if thats what the "Ellis" of the book is supposed to be. If this sounds confusing, it is toward the end, he begins every sentence with "the author" in a cheap attempt to create some kind of horror No, this really happened!
I cant figure it out. Ellis has written either a necrophiliacs attempt at an apology, or a paean to his fading celebrity. If the former, its another nail in a coffin that lost its lustre a long time ago. If the latter, its infuriating, a requiem as tired and limp as the pathetic narrators cocaine-addled penis. There may have been a time when tales of reviled rich people munching on the fat of Reagans economic policies, and then getting butchered, passed as social criticism or satisfied some vicarious thrill. Now, with the mess that is Lunar Park, we find Ellis merely feeding his ideas through a meat grinder, leaving the reader with nothing more than geek-show carnality.
Admittedly, the books final passages have some punch. But they only serve to remind us that weve just read 250 pages detailing the antics of weary socialites, whose only purpose seems to be to drop names and generally live lives as vapid and useless as possible topped by the fictional Ellis, slowly stewing in his drug-and-alcohol-spiked juices. Might as well keep stuffing that shit up your nose while you can still afford it.