Saturday, October 22, 2011

Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis

Question the narrator of Imperial Bedrooms - Bret Easton Ellis's follow up to his cult novel, Less Than Zero - because we've been duped before. In Less Than Zero, we're led to believe Clay's the one at the helm. He's writing the story as it happens. Imperial Bedrooms, on the other hand, opens with Clay - once again - narrating: "They had made a movie about us. The movie was based on a book written by someone we knew." Clay describes the book and the movie and the differences between the both. "The book was blunt and had an honesty about it, whereas the movie was just a beautiful lie," he says. We share the same feelings for the novel and its cinematic counterpart, "The movie was begging for our sympathy whereas the book didn't give a shit."

And the book still doesn't give a shit. Adapt that, Hollywood!

Less Than Zero is to first year of college as Imperial Bedrooms is to mid-life crisis. Is that accurate? In Less Than Zero, we're forced to see that things change. People change. And college is the enforcer of this change for many of us. Some of us become nostalgic, others become cold and jaded. And those who become come cold and jaded grow up to be Hollywood producers, writers, directors, actors, pimps, schemers, executives, and whore mongers. They use people for their own sexual gratification, whispering - not sweet nothings - spectacular promises that one can never hold on to. 

Has Clay grown up? Has he matured? No. Not in the least. Rather than evolving, he's become less than  he was in Less Than Zero. Has Julian learned from his time as a hustler, working for Finn? No. Instead, he becomes the pimp. Has Blair learned not to pursue Clay? No. 

And much like the film of Less Than Zero, Rip plays the villain. Julian owes him a ton of money. Julian is his little project. And Clay is forced to realize that he has been given the same opportunity that his fictional counterpart was given on the big screen. He has the power to be a friend. To bail Julian out of troubled waters. 

The novel shines a light on our darker selves, examining the people we can be and the people we choose to be.

Imperial Bedrooms is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble for Kindle and Nook, respectively. Until next time, keep on huntin'.

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