Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bret Easton Ellis: Less Than Zero

Bret Easton Ellis wrote this book twice. Unfortunately I read them in the wrong order. If I had read this before "American Psycho", I would have loved it, but this is the warm-up for "American Psycho," or "American Psycho"-junior. Not quite as startling, not quite as scary, not quite as mind-altering, not quite as horrific. The characters are teenagers and their vices haven't aged, yet. You can see where they're going, and shudder. And so very LA, which I abhorred before reading the book, and abhor even more now. If you haven't read either book, you should read both, which much time in between to get grounded first. Only, definitely read "Less Than Zer0" first.

My favorite part, worth retyping in full:

I am sitting in my psychiatrist's office the next day coming off from coke, sneezing blood. My psychiatrist's wearing a red V-neck sweater with nothing on underneath and a pair of cut-off jeans. I start to cry really hard. He looks at me and fingers the gold necklace that hangs from his tan neck. I stop crying for a minute and he looks at me some more and then writes something down on his pad. He asks me something. I tell him I don't know what's wrong; that maybe it has something to do with my parents but not really or maybe my friends or that I drive soemtimes and get lost; maybe it's the drugs.
"At least you realize these things. But that's not what I'm talking about, that's not really what I'm asking you, not really."
He gets up and walks across the room and straightens a framed cover of a Rolling Stone with Elvis Costello on the cover and the words "Elvis Costello REpents" in large white letters. I wait for him to ask me the question.
"Like him? Did you see him at the Amphitheater? Yeah? He's in Europe now, I guess. At least that's what I heard on MTV. Like the last album?"
"What about me?"
"What about you?"
"What about me?"
"You'll be fine."
"I don't know, I say. "I don't think so."
"Let's talk about something else."
"What about me?" I scream, choking.
"Come on, Clay," the psychiatrist says. "Don't be so... mundane."