the beep three

Welcome to the beep three. The beep three stands for the bret easton ellis project. The three is just a number; three because this is the third (in a series of maybe seven?) installation. In this project, I intend on reading Ellis’s bibliography in the order of publication and afterwards write a few words about it.

bret easton ellis is a novelist, an author who writes books, based in L.A (Los Angeles, the city of angels, dreams, lights, tinsel town. Broken dreams. The bubble (according to Mark Cousins)) mostly known, maybe, for his third novel American Psycho. He was born in 1964.

Oh, hello. Fancy seeing you here …

True to the nature of my being, I almost (read: ‘almost’) forgot about this bee-project of mine. (to read Bret Easton Ellis’ books in chronological order and maybe, perhaps see if I find any and all recurrent tendencies in the authors narrative/ prose, or rather: to see if I can detect any development in his writing from his debut novel to his last published novel (which would be, hold on, let me check…. Ah, yes Imperial Bedrooms, published in 2010)

So far, I’ve gotten to his third (and most famous) novel American Psycho.

Like Ellis himself has written; what more is there to say about American Psycho that hasn’t already been said? The novel received massive criticism, especially from feminist groups, for its brutal and visceral depiction of the murdering of female prostitutes, (among other people) upon its publication in 1991. Ellis was rejected as a vile patriarch, a misogynist to the utmost degree – and many of the people criticizing him, it seems, did not even actually read the novel.

True, there are plentiful (brutal and visceral) depiction of murders in the novel. Personally, I am not surprised people became shocked in reading it the first time around. But I’m not too sure about the personal attacks Ellis received, not to mention the (undoubtedly) several judgements of his moral/ethical nature, on the basis of a work of fiction. As a means of defending the novel and the author, many of Ellis’ contemporaries came out and reminded the reading public that there is a difference between the author and the fictional works he/she produces (any and all moral standpoints in a work of fiction may/should not automatically be imposed onto the author, or some standpoint as such etc etc), and american psycho is not an exception.

So a lot of things have been written back and forth about the protagonist, Wall Street yuppie Patrick Bateman and his vile actions. (I seem to remember even on this blog there is a post (written by .. me) about psycho and things surrounding this topic – I think I focused on whether what bateman depicts actually takes place or not, judging by the way some of the reactions he gets for saying things like I want to murder you/ I like to watch whores slowly die etc etc seem a bit ‘non-existent’ to a degree, compared to the severity of the statements, or something like that anyhow) and a lot of people have written about it exceedingly better than I may even dream of, I suppose.

Meaning, I won’t go any deeper into Bateman’s ethics, or how one could say aMERICAN PSYCHO, the novel, fits into a wider american literary tradition (there is an interesting connection between Robert bloch’s psycho (made popular by Hitchcock’s 1960’s picture starring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh) from 1959 and Ellis’s novel when it comes to Names (N. Bates in Psycho and P. Bateman in American Psycho, as well as, to a certain degree, Ellis mentioning Leigh doing an awful job in the movie Psycho or something like that (I seem to remember).

There is also an interesting aspect of body doubling in the novel that may be drawn back to Ellis’s other bibliography. One of the movies Bateman frequently rents at the movie place is Body Double (De Palma, 1984) which is a movie, as the title suggests, about individuals pretending to be other people, who commits crimes so that they themselves may go free. (it’s been a while since I saw the movie, ok, so probably I get the picture wrong, or probably I miss saw/ignored something hugely important underlying the movies thematic aspect etc etc but this is the bigger, overlying picture at least?). The movie is in itself meta, one could say, because body doubling is not so far from what actors actually do. They dress up and act as if they are someone else. (That is the very nature of acting.) This ties up with Ellis works how? I hear you asking. In American Psycho, Bateman goes to a handful of Christmas parties in which he does not purposely dress up. But the other party attendants still comments on how nicely he has dressed up for the party, which makes Bateman comment I am only being myself or some such thing to that effect. Also, in Lunar Park, Ellis’s sixth novel from 2005 the first sentence is You do an awfully good impression of yourself while the protagonist is at a Halloween party, feeding the ironic/oxymoronic narrative that someone ‘goes as themselves’ to a dress-up party (the whole novel lunar park is a metafictional narrative, constantly reflecting and mirroring itself and Ellis’s fictional work. It will be fun to read it again, whenever I get that far). Point being: American Psycho does fit in Ellis’s work as a whole when it comes to referencing itself over and over.

Anyhow, how does psycho relate to this ‘project’s’ vision (to see if I can detect any development in his writing from his debut novel to his last published novel)? His writing seems more ‘mature’ and ‘genuine’ in his third novel than the two before. The use of ‘deadpan’ dialogue, and self-deprecating sentences seems to be less frequent. There is a different ‘flow’ altogether in the text. American Psycho seems to me to be the first published novel in which the author’s prose appears more traditional than his previous published works. The ‘flow’ of the text and dialogue is not as dependent on postmodern paraphernalia (arguably, the plot is, though) as before.

The things Ellis describes (not only as mentioned the murders, but also the frantic listing of peoples clothing brands, as well as a continuing detailed preview of what today’s patty winters show was about) in the text are more grounded in reality, it seems to be, this time. What do I ‘mean’ by that? I guess, it seems to me that Ellis has taken a step up from less than zero and rules of attraction’s nihilistic narrative presence, and given more vibrancy to it. It doesn’t read like the author doesn’t care about the prose anymore. In American Psycho it reads like Ellis has begun to care again about his characters and the actions/events taking place. And he wants the readers to care, too.

I think that covers it for this time. If you made it this far, thank you for reading! And don’t forget to tune in next time, when I return with the beep four focusing on The Informers. Don’t hold your breath, though. It might still be a while from, at this pace.

~ milk


the beep two

Welcome to the beep two. The beep two stands for the bret Easton ellis project. The two is just a number – two because this is the second one (in a series of maybe seven?) In this project, I intend on reading Ellis’s bibliography in the order of publication, and afterwards write maybe a few words about the book.

bret easton ellis is a novelist, an author who writes books, based in L.A (Los Angeles, the city of angels, dreams, lights, tinsel town. Broken dreams. The bubble (according to mark cousins)) mostly known, maybe, for his third novel American Psycho. He was born in 1964.

The second book he published is called The Rules of Attraction, and will be the topic of this here post.

It is September 27th today and almost a month (or more? whatever. . . .) since i posted the first instalment of the beep, the ‘’review’’ on less than zero. There might be spoilers in this one I really don’t know(?)

Like Ellis’s first book, Less Than Zero, this novel also focuses on college students, what (or who) they do.  the whole book is narrated by different characters throughout, and the narrator changes constantly, maybe every two – four pages or so. There are several narrators and characters but the three main ones are Sean, Paul and Lauren.

They go to school in Camden, studying different liberal arts subject, always either uncertain about exactly what they actually study, or they’re constantly changing majors so its hard for them to remember. One of their past-times is looking at other students/Freshmen, guessing at what they study by the way they look/if they, or how they dance/talk/what they drink etc and then cursing (or not cursing, that seems like the wrong word, judging them maybe? belittling /  ridiculing them?) them for that major.

but even if their students, there’s not much studying going on (we hear of overdue papers, library books) & when two of the characters find themselves in a private party consisting of, among others, literary agents, one of them “gets a fit”, wants to start a fight with his companion, or to leave, drinks too much and falls asleep. similar to less than zero, the characters are constantly high on something (some of the interesting parts, I thought, was to read what they were high on this time, or how they acquired the drugs etc) and the narrators (all of them pretty much) find it amusing to point out the people they had sex with ( I was actually surprised at how many times this happened – or at how frequent the phrase “I fucked her/him” (or any derivations of this phrase) appeared. Not so many “explicit sex scenes” just this one observation. Mayhaps ellis was warming himself and his audience up for his third book,,, who knows)

and the main conflict seemed to me to be a love conflict between theree of the main characters / narrators, Paul, Lauren and Sean – who end up together?

Sean is also, interesting to me, Patrick Bateman’s brother. Patrick, of course, being the main character of ellis’s third book american psycho – and being that it is the “third” book, that means it is next up in the beep – the beep three. (which is obviously not started and at this point i cannot make any promises as to when it will be started let alone finished)

here is something I wrote in my notes while reading the book:

  • Prose more descriptive, detailed, clearer. Makes me feel theres a ‘bigger’ sense of optimism in Ellis. (even if the things described are . . bad? negative?)
  • Generally more emotional writing

I’m not very good at making notes – – –

But the point still stands; I do feel like this book, compared to less than zero is more descriptive in detailing mood, emotions, events. (maybe I just have forgotten important things in less than zero but this is ow I feel) Especially did I like Lauren’s narrative parts. They seem more authentically feminine. (Again, maybe I’m wrong, but again, that’s how I “felt”) I felt like Ellis successfully tried to make Lauren more ‘womanly’, ‘feminine’, a good role model(?) this is not only true for Lauren’s narrative parts particularly. again I was surprised at the level of emotional credibility and genuine authenticity in Elli’s writing and prose. this is something i did not recognize in less than zero. Seems he has “grown as a writer” the two years between less than zero and the rules of attraction.

Another thing this novel introduces in Ellis’s authorship, is the experimentation of beginning and ending of plot. The very beginning of the book is in the middle of a sentence (“and it’s a story that might bore you but you don’t have to listen (…)”) and ends in the similar matter (in the middle of a sentence: “my hand squeezing her knee, and she”)) i find this interesting because, the first thing that struck me, was that this book,and the story it tells is just a nihilistic(?) circle / representation of fate, or something else, something that no one can escape. Whether it’s nihilistic or not, hopeless or not, is for the moralist to say ..

(There is also one part (Lauren’s, toward the end of the book) that is simply empty.) I believe this also happens on more than one occasion in his next novel, american psycho,as far as I can remember at least from when I read it for the first (and, up til now, only) time in 2015 so it will be interesting to see whether im right or not now that I am going to read it again – and to see whether I put any importance on it or not – –

the rules of attraction was made into a film in 2002, directed by roger avary where sean is played by james van der beek, lauren by shannyn sossamon and paul by ian somerhalder (and obviously other actors are in it too). (i have yet to watch it, or the less than zero film)

~ milk