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bret easton ellis interview
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Ellis on Ellis on Ellis.Bret Easton Ellis is a phenomenon. Whether you want to kiss him or stab him with a knife – a serrated 12-inch Swiss Army is recommended - there is no denying the impact Ellis has had on the public consciousness in the past two decades. Now he’s back, warts ‘n’ all, with Lunar Park - a story with a fictionalised Bret Easton Ellis as our narrator and primary protagonist. Yep, it’s horror.
The Ellis phenomenon started when the LA-born author penned Less Than Zero while still a 21-year-old student. Overnight he was marketed as the voice of disaffected young America - those with daddies who owned corporations, drove around in Porsches, spent their ample disposable income on drugs and lived Reaganomics. The theme continued in The Rules of Attraction, and although not greeted with universal critical masturbation at the time, the experimental multiple perspective narrative of rich brats at Camden proved Ellis was an author who wanted to try something harder.
Then came American Psycho. Ellis was depicted as the enfant terrible of literature: the man you love to hate, or hate to love. Psycho’s unreliable narrator, Patrick Bateman, took the material themes of Ellis’s fiction into corporate America, with hilarious and gruesome consequences. The writer’s popularity became such that he could have written bum on toilet paper and had fans lining the streets to get a second-hand copy. He chose instead to release The Informers, a book of short vampire stories that he’d written years earlier at college.
Glamorama saw Ellis polarise many in his gargantuan fan club. Set in the fashion world, it was another heady mix of paranoid characters wearing haute couture, name-dropping and referencing A-list celebrities. On his own style of writing, Ellis comments, “I’m not really conscious of populating my books with real celebrities and real characters. It just so happens that [with] the narrators I choose to write about, that just seems to be the world that they are part of and it seems unrealistic if I don’t go that way and have that populous hanging around that narrator.”
In the first chapter of Lunar Park, Ellis lampoons his own past to create the Bret Easton Ellis of the book, effortlessly (his word) taking the reader away from the popular perception of the author to allow himself to become a horror genre writer. It’s a clever, smart and rambunctious read. But Ellis the interviewee is as unreliable as his fictionalised protagonists, insisting, “I believe every word this protagonist says. I believe all the things he talks about and all the events he describes during these terrible twelve days he endures in the haunted house he lives in.” In a similar manner, Collective believed everything Ellis told us whilst he was dressed in Chav chic.
Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis, out now published by Picador.
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