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Friday, May 7, 2010

Imperial Bedrooms

Imperial Bedrooms
by Bret Easton Ellis
(1/5 stars)

It's just as well that JD Salinger never published a sequel to "Catcher in the Rye" with Holden as a middle-aged man because it probably would have turned out like "Imperial Bedrooms."  While Ellis' "Less Than Zero" wound up being the '80s version of "Catcher in the Rye," perfectly capturing the emptiness and wastefulness of that decade, "Imperial Bedrooms" has nothing to say and really no reason to exist.  It's just a dull Hollywood thriller like the type we've seen dozens of times before in books and films.

Picking up 25 years after "Less Than Zero" the novel again features Clay as the narrator.  It might have been helpful to have reread "Zero" beforehand because the first few pages go on about how someone wrote a book about Clay and his friends back in the '80s but it wasn't really Clay, it was someone else who like Nick in the "Great Gatsby" was close to the action but not entirely a part of it.  The book then goes on about the difference in the movie version, which is remarkably different.

Then it finally gets down to the brass tacks.  Clay is a screenwriter and like most stereotypical Hollywood screenwriters is an alcoholic and fringe player on the scene.  The rest of the book goes on as a B-movie-style thriller involving Clay, his friend Julian, and the stereotypical struggling actress/whore Rain Turner.

None of this rises above the level of cliche and really the only thing you could take away from this is something I figured out a while ago:  most people don't really "grow up," they just get older.  If you were looking for Ellis to provide some kind of commentary on 21st Century society, think again.  He gets bogged down in the cheap TMZ tabloid theatrics instead.  But maybe the point as I said was that nothing's changed for Clay.  He's still a selfish idiot, only now he abuses alcohol more than cocaine.

In short this was a disappointing book that smacks to me of a cash grab.  If you're reading this and you haven't purchased the book yet, then don't waste your money.  Just go pop "LA Confidential" in the DVD player instead if you want a good Hollywood thriller or reread "Less Than Zero" if you want a nostalgia fix.

That is all.

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