Review of Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
by Ben Macnair
In 1985, a 21 year old Bret Easton Ellis released his first novel, Less than Zero, and the controversial novel of hedonistic youngsters living the high life in Los Angeles made the author famous overnight.
25 years after it was first published, the book still has the power to shock, but its controversy has been somewhat tempered by changes in the world since. It centers around Clay, an eighteen year old student returning to his home for the Christmas holidays.
It looks at his relationship with his girlfriend, Blair, his parents, and sisters, who are older than their years, and it also looks at the lives of his friends, Daniel, Julian, and a stream of others who seem to be film makers, or models, or concerned about their tans, in December.
The novel shows the transient nature of friendships for late teenagers, many of whom have moved away, and the seemingly never ending bed-hopping, drug taking and partying does not seem to end, although Easton Ellis, who was little older than is characters when he wrote the book is careful not to judge his characters, that is left to the reader. The darker-underbelly of the glamour is also looked at, with allusions to Anorexia, or the work that Julian has to do to pay of a debt he owes to one of his dealers.
There are no happy endings for anyone, or neat resolutions. Clay leaves, expecting things not to change, but knowing that they will. You fear for the lives and sanity of many of the characters, but their lives are followed in this year’s Imperial Bedrooms, but they are people you might not want to spend that much time in the company of.

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