Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, September 10, 2021

comfortably nullAfter much anticipation, I tore through Bret Easton Ellis’ “Imperial Bedrooms”, the sequel to his very first novel, “Less Than Zero”.

Then, I read through it a second time, at a more languid pace.

Sure enough, I came away with the same feeling both times upon story conclusion: I wanted to throw up. But in a good way.

So, job well done, Mr. Ellis.

Actually, not so well done. I realize that there are impossible expectations in following up an iconic work like “Zero”, but still, “Bedrooms” has a distinctly incomplete feel to it. It’s generally a stripped-down narrative, mostly devoid of Ellis’ typical descriptive depth.

And portions of it seem disjointed, especially the opening convention: That the “Zero” book and movie were fictional constructs, based on the “real” Clay and his cohorts. It would have been an interesting premise, yet Ellis largely abandons it as soon as it’s introduced. What replaces it is a lot less satisfying: Clay’s obsession with a manipulative would-be starlet, which doesn’t feel authentic enough to motivate the book’s subsequent events.

Still, the author’s imprimatur is still present. A sense of dread hangs over the story as Clay’s true nature is revealed. His self-confessional in the book’s final paragraph brings it home, and makes clear that the boy from “Zero” grew up into a twisted cipher (not-so-subtly underlined by his lack of a last name, whereas other returning characters had acquired theirs).

There’s plenty here to satisfy fans of the original, right down to the “moving the game as you play it” veiled reference (from the opening pop cultural song lyric in “Zero”). “Bedrooms” is a welcome revisit to a terrain that you wish you could avoid, but have to explore despite your better judgment.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 09/10/2021 10:47am
Category: Book Review, Pop Culture
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