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Twenty-five years on from "Less Than Zero", we pick up again with "Clay". In 1985, Bret Easton Ellis shocked, stunned, and disturbed with "Less Than Zero", his 'extraordinarily accomplished first novel' ("New Yorker"), successfully chronicling the frightening consequences of unmitigated hedonism within the ranks of the ethically bereft youth of 80s Los Angeles. Now, twenty Twenty-five years on from "Less Than Zero", we pick up again with "Clay". In 1985, Bret Easton Ellis shocked, stunned, and disturbed with "Less Than Zero", his 'extraordinarily accomplished first novel' ("New Yorker"), successfully chronicling the frightening consequences of unmitigated hedonism within the ranks of the ethically bereft youth of 80s Los Angeles. Now, twenty-five years later, Ellis returns to those same characters: to Clay and the band of infamous teenagers whose lives weave sporadically through his. But now, some years on, they face an even greater period of disaffection: their own middle age. Clay seems to have moved on - he's become a successful screenwriter - but when he returns from New York to Los Angeles, to help cast his new movie, he's soon drifting through a long-familiar circle. Blair, his former girlfriend, is now married to Trent, and their Beverly Hills parties attract excessive levels of fame and fortune, though for all that Trent is a powerful manager, his baser instincts remain: he's still a bisexual philanderer. Then there's Clay's childhood friend, Julian - who's now a recovering addict - and their old dealer, Rip - face-lifted beyond recognition and seemingly even more sinister than he was in his notorious past. Clay, too, struggles with his own demons after a meeting with a gorgeous actress determined to win a role in his movie. And with his life careening out of control, he's forced to come to terms with the deepest recesses of his character - and with his seemingly endless proclivity for betrayal.


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Twenty-five years on from "Less Than Zero", we pick up again with "Clay". In 1985, Bret Easton Ellis shocked, stunned, and disturbed with "Less Than Zero", his 'extraordinarily accomplished first novel' ("New Yorker"), successfully chronicling the frightening consequences of unmitigated hedonism within the ranks of the ethically bereft youth of 80s Los Angeles. Now, twenty Twenty-five years on from "Less Than Zero", we pick up again with "Clay". In 1985, Bret Easton Ellis shocked, stunned, and disturbed with "Less Than Zero", his 'extraordinarily accomplished first novel' ("New Yorker"), successfully chronicling the frightening consequences of unmitigated hedonism within the ranks of the ethically bereft youth of 80s Los Angeles. Now, twenty-five years later, Ellis returns to those same characters: to Clay and the band of infamous teenagers whose lives weave sporadically through his. But now, some years on, they face an even greater period of disaffection: their own middle age. Clay seems to have moved on - he's become a successful screenwriter - but when he returns from New York to Los Angeles, to help cast his new movie, he's soon drifting through a long-familiar circle. Blair, his former girlfriend, is now married to Trent, and their Beverly Hills parties attract excessive levels of fame and fortune, though for all that Trent is a powerful manager, his baser instincts remain: he's still a bisexual philanderer. Then there's Clay's childhood friend, Julian - who's now a recovering addict - and their old dealer, Rip - face-lifted beyond recognition and seemingly even more sinister than he was in his notorious past. Clay, too, struggles with his own demons after a meeting with a gorgeous actress determined to win a role in his movie. And with his life careening out of control, he's forced to come to terms with the deepest recesses of his character - and with his seemingly endless proclivity for betrayal.

30 review for Imperial Bedrooms

  1. 5 out of 5

    David

    Do not read this book. It's about despicable people doing despicable things. In other words, it's about being human in the most essential sense of the term. You will not like it because you have to like the characters you read about. Or because it's too dull or cold or passe. Or because it's misanthropic or misogynistic. It's really none of these things, but you'll think it is and say it is and you'll be angry and spiteful and write another tired anti-Ellis review. Another tired anti-postmoderni Do not read this book. It's about despicable people doing despicable things. In other words, it's about being human in the most essential sense of the term. You will not like it because you have to like the characters you read about. Or because it's too dull or cold or passe. Or because it's misanthropic or misogynistic. It's really none of these things, but you'll think it is and say it is and you'll be angry and spiteful and write another tired anti-Ellis review. Another tired anti-postmodernism review. Save your time. There are many great books you'll not have time to read during your too-short life. Let this be one of them. This, and White Noise maybe. And Jonathan Safran Foer. Clutch desperately to the past. To the literature and music and films of your parents and their parents, and so on. They've said everything that needs to be said. And they've invented all the worthwhile ways of saying it. Now let's just sit back in our tufted wingbacks and regard it, complacently, religiously. The remainder, after all -- our contribution to the conversation -- is only decadence, gimmickry, and superficiality. How disgusting we are. How pathetically, beautifully, wonderfully disgusting. T.S. Eliot said so, I think. In a manner of speaking.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Fabian

    I have defended this writer quite enough already. The time’s up! We are henceforth severing all ties. Jeez… how can a critically-acknowledged writer move so far back in his own craft, in originality? Entering the realm of the true masters with “American Psycho” & even the more recent “Glamorama” and then totally selling out… what a disgrace! You, Mr. Easton Ellis, should feel shame. Please retire! I really don’t want to get into a brief synopsis of this sad excuse for a novella (sure… its modern o I have defended this writer quite enough already. The time’s up! We are henceforth severing all ties. Jeez… how can a critically-acknowledged writer move so far back in his own craft, in originality? Entering the realm of the true masters with “American Psycho” & even the more recent “Glamorama” and then totally selling out… what a disgrace! You, Mr. Easton Ellis, should feel shame. Please retire! I really don’t want to get into a brief synopsis of this sad excuse for a novella (sure… its modern only in its brevity--all popular writers are now seriously editing back what used to be 500+ page behemoths) since its all been done and seen before. Everything found in the mistitled “Bedrooms” has been witnessed in previous books, half of which are brilliant (“Am. Psycho”, “Rules of Attraction”) the others duds (especially “The Informers”) … though all of them are hopelessly stuck in the 80's. This book sucks for those barely getting into B.E.E., but even more so for hardcore fans like me. And, really, how pathetic is it that 2010 is just a drained, drab version of that rock-&-rollin’ decade we've all come to appreciate? Even the fakeness of the 80s is preferable over all this recycled garbage. Just move over, Oldster, and let others explore teenage nihilism and despair... BAD!!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lorileinart

    Imperial Bedrooms is Bret Easton Ellis' sequel to Less Than Zero. It's not a book for most people. Having dismissed most of you out of hand, I now turn my attention to those of us for whom this book was written. If you were young, smart, rich, and beautiful in the early 1980's, here is our glorious, shameful tribute (it was once okay to openly admit you were an elitist). Before the ravages of AIDS, herpes, crack cocaine, and the resulting cautionary morality that swallowed us whole, we were a free Imperial Bedrooms is Bret Easton Ellis' sequel to Less Than Zero. It's not a book for most people. Having dismissed most of you out of hand, I now turn my attention to those of us for whom this book was written. If you were young, smart, rich, and beautiful in the early 1980's, here is our glorious, shameful tribute (it was once okay to openly admit you were an elitist). Before the ravages of AIDS, herpes, crack cocaine, and the resulting cautionary morality that swallowed us whole, we were a freewheeling set of shameless consumers. I'd forgotten how awesome it was to live dangerously. I'd forgotten how it felt, too, when everyone accepted responsibility for their own misfortunes rather than blaming society or the government. Somehow it was better that way. Imperial Bedrooms follows the young Californians of Less Than Zero into their mid-40's. They are exactly as we left them: lethal, self-obsessed. Ellis' greatest gift to the reader is that this tale is mercifully brief. It didn't take long to remind us of who we were. I devoured this book in one night, and for those few hours, I was twenty years old again. I was infused with the idea that anything--and anyone--was possible. Risk, sex, drugs, strangers: so what? The final pages are a crash landing that jolt you back to reality. I said farewell to my old self and gratefully returned to the mundane world of mortgages, multiple tuitions, and dinner parties. Our legacy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    David Lentz

    I really can't seem to remember the last time that I rated a novel with only one star. But I blame myself: I should have seen it coming. A friend of mine met BEE at a party in the Hamptons and raved about him. So despite my misgivings I thought I would take the plunge and now I deeply regret that I did so. Fortunately, the book was terribly short and it's not so much a novel really as a novella. I assume BEE knocked it out over a long weekend stay at the Beverly Hilton. I am not so much into mul I really can't seem to remember the last time that I rated a novel with only one star. But I blame myself: I should have seen it coming. A friend of mine met BEE at a party in the Hamptons and raved about him. So despite my misgivings I thought I would take the plunge and now I deeply regret that I did so. Fortunately, the book was terribly short and it's not so much a novel really as a novella. I assume BEE knocked it out over a long weekend stay at the Beverly Hilton. I am not so much into multiple decapitations anymore. Ditto for torture, drugs and brutal rape. Sorry but apparently hundreds of thousands of us are into these plot points and the book is selling rather briskly, I gather. But who doesn't like another great story about the incredible artifice of Hollywood? I was somewhat shocked to learn of the depths of insincerity lingering in this Mecca of Art, Film, Writing and Music. Who knew there was a casting couch for actresses in Hollywood? But BEE makes the LA scene seem like so totally cool. I can't recall when so many names were dropped in so short a book. About the characters: isn't it such a struggle to love a book when you can't stand every single character in it? I found myself unexpectedly cheering their horrid, individual demise. I'm not sure that effect was meant to happen for readers. His peops struck me as vain, vapid, vacuous, narcissistic, shallow, materialistic, delusional, conspiratorial, paranoid, escapist... sorry, I don't mean to rant. Isn't this notoriously thin veneer part of BEE's theme? Of course, but to hell with it. Hollywood might somehow actually be deeply and horrifically, even fatally flawed but we love them anyway because they define American culture and who can argue with the proud legacy of great literature that they have given us? All those vampire movies, gangsta rap, reality TV, cheesy romantic films and graphic murder mysteries? I hate to say that the writing in "IB" was contrived but I sensed BEE's contrivances on every page and I so longed to be transported and become immersed in the haunting beauty of the writing. There was a moment when I thought this book may have been written as a parody of books about Hollywood, which would have been a far more inventive way to go in the narrative. But I can see now the sincerity of the narrative in wanting to shock us into understanding that no matter how cool we think Hollywood is, it's really only just... a business. Hollywood is simply... an illusion, a bad dream and sometimes even a nightmare that exists to make money. I know, it's shocking. I do sincerely hope that BEE's children never suffer to read his novel. And I am doing my best to spare you the literary agony of reading this little book, too. But, honestly, I implore you to look elsewhere. Anywhere. This book represents nearly everything that is wrong with American commercial writing and mainstream publishing. I am ashamed to think so many people bought this book, read it and a few even admire it. I can't begin to imagine what they were thinking. But I fell for it, too -- all the great buzz. But buyer beware. Maybe it's just the devil making me write this review. But don't hate me -- as BEE has so famously quipped: "I'm only the writer." To BEE or not to BEE: that is the question. Go with not to BEE this time.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Louise Atkin

    I finished the majority of this in about 4 hours because what the actual hell did I just read. I don’t know why I ever expect to come out of a Bret Ellis book feeling fine because that never happens, this book was fucked. But not in a good way, more in an annoyed way. This is by far Ellis's worst book. No sense of time, no sense of space - when you compare with the overwhelming gloom of the city in it's predecessor Less Than Zero, and the toxic consumerism of the 80s in American Psycho, there is I finished the majority of this in about 4 hours because what the actual hell did I just read. I don’t know why I ever expect to come out of a Bret Ellis book feeling fine because that never happens, this book was fucked. But not in a good way, more in an annoyed way. This is by far Ellis's worst book. No sense of time, no sense of space - when you compare with the overwhelming gloom of the city in it's predecessor Less Than Zero, and the toxic consumerism of the 80s in American Psycho, there is just nothing here. The first third of this book was a shit version of Less Than Zero, the second third a shit version of Glamorama, and the last part a shit version of American Psycho. Admittedly, the ghosts of these novels that I still felt inside this book made me like it at some points, but that's just it - I didn't like Imperial Bedrooms, I liked the meagre deja vu of his previous novels. Ellis tries to imitate his old tricks of metafiction and conspiracies and violence, but it felt forced. I mean I was still fucked up at the end of this book after not moving from my bed for hours to finish it, but at this point I'm just like, stop? Because it's not moving me anymore. This was the last Bret book I had to read and now I am very sad. I read his entire bibliography this year and it feels like such an anti-climax to end with this book so I'm probably going to go back and read Less Than Zero again. Oh and I bet you are wondering why I gave this book four stars. That is because I am a dickhead and anything with Bret Easton Ellis's name on automatically gets four stars. Sorry lol.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    The old gang from "Less Than Zero" are revisited in a sort of sequel, "Imperial Bedrooms". They were wasted as teenagers and they're wasted in middle age. Trent Burroughs is married to Blair, Julian Wells is around, Rip Millar is creepier than the last time, while Clay is as vapid and self-absorbed as ever. The story begins with a film Clay wrote and is helping produce, "The Listeners", where he meets a desperate and beautiful actress, Rain Turner, who will do anything for a starring role. Clay The old gang from "Less Than Zero" are revisited in a sort of sequel, "Imperial Bedrooms". They were wasted as teenagers and they're wasted in middle age. Trent Burroughs is married to Blair, Julian Wells is around, Rip Millar is creepier than the last time, while Clay is as vapid and self-absorbed as ever. The story begins with a film Clay wrote and is helping produce, "The Listeners", where he meets a desperate and beautiful actress, Rain Turner, who will do anything for a starring role. Clay and Rain become involved but then the murders start happening and Clay doesn't realise what he's gotten himself into nor who Rain really is. Mysterious texts follow sackings of his flat and blue/green BMWs stalking Clay wherever he goes. Somehow his "friends" are all tied into this and Clay has to decide who to trust... If not for the characters' names this could easily be a standalone book rather than a sequel. Besides finding out that our heroes of "Less" turn out to be older and still behave like they did 25 years ago, it's not exactly a revelatory update. But that's fine because the book is more than the better for it. It launches straight into the story. The story seems very The Hills/The OC in style; it's all about who slept with who, what their game is, jilted love, revenge, etc. except for several horrific scenes. I'm thinking of what Clay does to the two hookers at the end and the grotesque murder (all detailed) of one of the main characters by another. Also, while this is a Hollywood novel, Ellis doesn't do what most Hollywood novels do and inject satire or parody into the story. It's a straightfoward serious story that plays off of perceived Hollywood stereotypes to construct something original. Ellis specialises in 1st person narration and Clay's voice is as cold and dispassionate as it was in the '80s and the familiar scenes of drug abuse and sexual exploitation are told with all the emotional resonance of a shopping list. We see the story through Clay's eyes and his lack of interest in his friends from "Less Than Zero" heighten their characters' level of interest in the reader. Rip in particular is a menacing figure who seems to be somehow omnipotent but because Clay shields himself from finding out about Rip's life, we never know more about him, making Rip even more terrifying. Clay's a great character who evolves throughout the story from being emotionally detached to become totally changed, finally ending on the words "I never liked anyone and I'm afraid of people". "1985-2010" follow the final sentence and makes me wonder if Ellis is giving up novel writing or maybe he's giving up writing the type of novel he's famous for. I hope that's not the case. Even if some will look at this and dislike aspects of it (and if you've read Ellis before and didn't like him, this book won't change your opinion), Ellis is still by far one of the finest novelists around at the moment. It was never going to be the groundbreaking book "Less Than Zero" was but it has the virtue of being more interesting than almost any novel published this year. "Imperial Bedrooms" is overall a well written and worthwhile read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    R.

    Highly polished Less Than Zero fan-fiction: for not one second do I buy into the idea that Bret Easton Ellis actually believes his characters survived beyond the very late 80s or early 90s. The literary equivalent of a "Späder-Man" action figure. Also please note that Elvis Costello does not make an appearance - beyond an epigraph - as any sort of symbol or signpost, as he did in LTZ. But Warren Zevon does. Twice, actually. As such, since naming a novel set in LA "Werewolves of London" or "Things Highly polished Less Than Zero fan-fiction: for not one second do I buy into the idea that Bret Easton Ellis actually believes his characters survived beyond the very late 80s or early 90s. The literary equivalent of a "Späder-Man" action figure. Also please note that Elvis Costello does not make an appearance - beyond an epigraph - as any sort of symbol or signpost, as he did in LTZ. But Warren Zevon does. Twice, actually. As such, since naming a novel set in LA "Werewolves of London" or "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" would be...be just silly...I suggest future editions of IB be retitled "My Shit's Fucked Up" (from the WZ album Life'll Kill Ya). Since Clay is, y'know, such an excitable boy.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Scarlett O.H.

    This book is weirdly topical with the whole casting couch/ Harvey Weinstein news and discussions we've been having lately. Last week it came out in the papers that even in The Netherlands there was a guy from a casting bureau who had been abusing young boys for years. Hollywood and also other countries movie industries are a toxic environment and Bret Easton Ellis once again describes it in a harsh and detached way. The leading character is not a reliable narrator because of how much he drinks, This book is weirdly topical with the whole casting couch/ Harvey Weinstein news and discussions we've been having lately. Last week it came out in the papers that even in The Netherlands there was a guy from a casting bureau who had been abusing young boys for years. Hollywood and also other countries movie industries are a toxic environment and Bret Easton Ellis once again describes it in a harsh and detached way. The leading character is not a reliable narrator because of how much he drinks, and this book has a nightmarish quality that I seldom see in any other writers work. This book was good and makes me want to reread all of Mr Ellis books in a row. They are all waiting in my bookcase, now I only have to find the time :-)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Supreeth

    Fortunately, I didn't have to wait 25 years to read this one. But unfortunately this one sucked big time. This is mostly a standalone than a sequel for less than zero. While the detached unfazed narration of clay is still same, the whole book didn't intrigue me in any way. It mostly reminded me of 5th season of Californication, but the darker version. If you loved LTZ and want more of Clay, you're in for a disappointment. You should've disappeared there. I guess Bret Easton Ellis is still stuck Fortunately, I didn't have to wait 25 years to read this one. But unfortunately this one sucked big time. This is mostly a standalone than a sequel for less than zero. While the detached unfazed narration of clay is still same, the whole book didn't intrigue me in any way. It mostly reminded me of 5th season of Californication, but the darker version. If you loved LTZ and want more of Clay, you're in for a disappointment. You should've disappeared there. I guess Bret Easton Ellis is still stuck in 80's and 90's (still my favourite author).

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sayer

    Imperial Bedrooms: 3.07?????? That's it?! I think I may be lightly spoiling themes in this so....yeah. I won't spoil any of the plot points though. Well, then, I guess I'm a tad surprised....maybe a 3.3? I don't know, all I can say is that I really, really, really liked this book. Like, I love it. It's a sequel to Ellis' "Less Than Zero" The zeitgeist of the 80s, or "The Catcher in the Rye for the MTV generation." Both Catcher and "Less Than Zero" are some of my favorite books...they go well togethe Imperial Bedrooms: 3.07?????? That's it?! I think I may be lightly spoiling themes in this so....yeah. I won't spoil any of the plot points though. Well, then, I guess I'm a tad surprised....maybe a 3.3? I don't know, all I can say is that I really, really, really liked this book. Like, I love it. It's a sequel to Ellis' "Less Than Zero" The zeitgeist of the 80s, or "The Catcher in the Rye for the MTV generation." Both Catcher and "Less Than Zero" are some of my favorite books...they go well together. But anyway, I heard that there's a sequel to "Less Than Zero" so I picked it up, and let's face it, the cover is pretty bad-ass. Is that Clay with horns? And then I thought, after I finished the book, the meaning behind the cover. Clay, now 45, is a screenplay writer, and they made a movie about him, and Julian and the rest of the crew, of course, changing things as movies do, which sort of upsets Clay. But that's not the book, and in fact, Clay seems like the Clay we knew in "Less Than Zero", but he isn't. Oh no. Then, he meets a young actress, Rain, and his life goes...well...yeah. That's all I'll really say about the plot for now. The thing I admire about Mr. Ellis is that he isn't all up in his writing. He just lets it flow out in a beautiful yet disturbing stream of consciousness. I feel we get dangerously close to the characters, whether it's Patrick Bateman, Clay, or even Bret Ellis from Lunar Park. I think Mr. Ellis said he "Writes his pain" or something. That's how these books are effective. Themes (and stuff) First of all, the novel goes into obsession. Instead of drugs this time, it's more about people, and the obsession we can feel around other people. And when is enough, enough? Clay, 45, is not much different, but at the same time, he's a completely new person, probably not for the better. Being full of yourself: Multiple characters tell Clay that he needs to start thinking about other people. Are they right? Yes. Are they "phonies"? Yes. In this world everyone's all worried about themselves, their clothes, their relationships, their drinks, their everything, and "Imperial Bedrooms" shows that, not as much as "American Psycho" really did, but this is close, in fact, this felt more like Psycho than "Less Than Zero", and while I'm on that topic... I heard this was pretty stand alone, and at first, I totally thought that. The only characters that really show up a lot are Clay (of course), Rip, Blair, and Julian. Trent sort of and the other's show up a few times, but the story revolves around them, as well as the new character, Rain. This lead me to think that it was stand alone, and if anyone picked this up and didn't read "Less Than Zero", then they would be fine. I was wrong. I think you really do need to read Zero first because, well- Well, it's important to see where they came from, and the self destruction they ALL go down, although Blair seemed pretty okay. In fact, Blair is the only character likable. But the hatred and disgust we feel now from Clay is a beautiful hatred, at least that's how I felt. I hated Clay so much like I hated Patrick Bateman. I love him. I love to hate him. And Ellis always does this well. That pretty much sums it up, I guess. I just don't understand all the hate, and I guess I'm one of little who really, really loved this book and appreciates it for what it is. The only complaint I have is I wish it was a little richer in some aspects, but I don't even really know. 5/5

  11. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Weinman

    Loved it. Couldn't put it down. Anti-Ellis peeps will scorn and have done on this forum and each to its own, but this is a serious return to form for one of my personal favourites. Ellis re-visits the characters from his first book, Less Than Zero, and while much has changed in their lives, it would appear the ‘protagonist,’ Clay seems the most different….Yes he was always devoid of natural emotion and his social skills have always been somewhat off, but I sense a lot of difference in his charac Loved it. Couldn't put it down. Anti-Ellis peeps will scorn and have done on this forum and each to its own, but this is a serious return to form for one of my personal favourites. Ellis re-visits the characters from his first book, Less Than Zero, and while much has changed in their lives, it would appear the ‘protagonist,’ Clay seems the most different….Yes he was always devoid of natural emotion and his social skills have always been somewhat off, but I sense a lot of difference in his character now, almost as if he’s infused with the ‘fictional’ BEE of Lunar Park… I’m a sucker for gory detail and crude sex scenes, so naturally there is a lot for me to like here, but Ellis’ ability to maintain minimalism in his characters and his tendency to allow the reader to draw their own conclusions remain true in this book… At the end of the day, the gory and cynical Ellis maintains the most important thing in life…Some things never change! I loved it, but like most things in life, BEE’s work is of an acquired taste..

  12. 5 out of 5

    Quill

    The Basics In this sequel to Less Than Zero, we catch up with Clay and his old friends, all of whom are now middle-aged and much the same as we left them. In this universe, Less Than Zero was a successful book and a movie that missed the point, much as it is in ours. Clay isn’t satisfied with the way he was portrayed, so the question becomes, “can he show his audience that he’s a different man than that?” My Thoughts I’m about to say the most controversial thing I could possibly say: Imperial Bedro The Basics In this sequel to Less Than Zero, we catch up with Clay and his old friends, all of whom are now middle-aged and much the same as we left them. In this universe, Less Than Zero was a successful book and a movie that missed the point, much as it is in ours. Clay isn’t satisfied with the way he was portrayed, so the question becomes, “can he show his audience that he’s a different man than that?” My Thoughts I’m about to say the most controversial thing I could possibly say: Imperial Bedrooms is better than Less Than Zero. I’m gonna let that hit you while I don my armor. As I attempted to explain in “The Basics”, Clay and Julian and everyone we encountered in the previous book are officially over-the-hill. In this universe, the previous book exists in universe, and Clay acts somewhat insulted by the way he’s written, as this kid who can’t feel because he’s so detached and disassociated. This is something the book does incredibly well. Clay genuinely believes he’s a good, giving, kind person. He sees nothing of Less Than Zero Clay in himself. He wants us to believe that was all a lie. He’s not that person; he’s better than that. And then proceeds to reveal himself as being even worse. Here’s where I think the book loses people. For a lot of folks, I think Clay seemed like an anti-hero. Imperial Bedrooms paints him a lot differently. It seems to be saying that if someone really were that detached from everyone around them, that sociopathic, they would be a pretty terrible person. No one wants to hear that. They want Clay to be a symbol for something rather than a character. Personally, I believe I took Less Than Zero a lot differently than most, because his behavior in Imperial Bedrooms didn’t seem so off-the-wall to me. It felt like an extension of what the years between that we didn’t see could’ve turned Clay into. That he was predisposed to being uncaring and cruel, and it only got more pronounced as he got older. It makes sense to me. I also thought that Clay trying to solve a mystery that simply wasn’t solvable because he didn’t have all the information was clever. Not only did it feel realistic, like “mysteries” don’t wrap up neatly in reality, but it also felt like another example of Clay’s monstrous ego. He wants to believe so badly he can change things, when really it’s all a selfish move on his part anyway. What I’m trying to say is that this book was a brilliant character study. I believe if all of Ellis’ books could be taken that way, they’d be more widely enjoyed. Final Rating 5/5

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    As a product of Generation X, which was laughable at the time, I was deeply disturbed by Less Than Zero. I read the book, ran to the theatre to see the movie and re-read it. Dark, disturbing and the characters were unlike anyone I would ever know, it fascinated me. I loved it. Now, it's sequel begins with another visit from Clay,still disinterested and unaffected these many years later.Maybe it's the fact I was left wanting more, or, that Ellis continues this disturbing story like it was written As a product of Generation X, which was laughable at the time, I was deeply disturbed by Less Than Zero. I read the book, ran to the theatre to see the movie and re-read it. Dark, disturbing and the characters were unlike anyone I would ever know, it fascinated me. I loved it. Now, it's sequel begins with another visit from Clay,still disinterested and unaffected these many years later.Maybe it's the fact I was left wanting more, or, that Ellis continues this disturbing story like it was written back in the 80's, I couldn't wait to see what was coming next. If these characters were so heartless,numb and immune to everything swirling around them, what would you expect if they did manage to grow up? I guess, I never thought they would. Again, a disturbing, painful look at the lengths some people will go to get what they want and once again,indicative of the times.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Candy

    Response Song When I bought my first copy of David Bowie's Scary Monsters I remember the strange feeling of listening to a "song sequel" of Major Tom, titled Ashes To Ashes. How amazing! Revisiting a character in a song! I was stunned and exhilarated because I had no experience, or rather, no awareness of the idea of "response songs". This practice is more easily tracked in radio and recorded popular music but two of the most classic response songs come from older songs, in the blues, by Mudd Response Song When I bought my first copy of David Bowie's Scary Monsters I remember the strange feeling of listening to a "song sequel" of Major Tom, titled Ashes To Ashes. How amazing! Revisiting a character in a song! I was stunned and exhilarated because I had no experience, or rather, no awareness of the idea of "response songs". This practice is more easily tracked in radio and recorded popular music but two of the most classic response songs come from older songs, in the blues, by Muddy Waters responding to Bo Diddly, (Mannish Boy and I'm A Man) or Buddy Holly responding to his own work. (Peggy Sue and Peggy Sue Got Married) What do you do when you write a dark, evil novel filled with aimless, cruel, addicted people who become wildly popular and sentimental favourites to readers? Kill off your novel with a sequel. That is what Ellis has done. In the same way when David Lynch created an frightening lexicon of images and characters in the mini-series Twin Peaks and networks gave him an opportunity to create an actual tv show...he had to hit us over the head. Evil is at home. Evil is not supernatural. The original mini-series tells us who is "BOB" (the name of the devil in the series)...but the packaging was so wonderful we wanted more and seemed to miss the thesis! I was/am a huge fan of the novel Less Tahn Zero. So I guess I am partly responsible for Ellis having to go back and hit us over the head with "these are awful people"...and god, why on earth would I want to read even more about them? Well, I did. I don't know why. Maybe because I loved the novel, and it was a so-called voice of my generation...it did encapsulate what it felt like to be a young person in the 1980's. It had violence, drugs, sex and existentialism and the feeling of hopelessness. Duh. It was brilliant. Sentimental? No. I don't believe I was sentimental...but the movie version of the novel...and the fact that almost every hip urban person I knew had also read it and loved it and felt it reflected something about urban life, contemporary life...meant something. I also went on to follow all of Ellis's novels and am a big defender of American Psycho. To this day, I think it is one of the best novels out there, surely from the 80's. I put it alongside Blood Meridian and Cities of The Red Night. Imperial Bedrooms will bother a lot of readers. It is sick and disturbing and depressing. What becomes of the 1980's characters who were sick, sadistic, addicted, lazy, remote and how could you build a plot about them in the future? How could you take it up a level and what could be worse than rape, drugs and mindgames? Hollywood. I was excited to see Bret Easton Ellis interviewed on Tavis Smiley a couple months ago. Tavis wanted to address a few things about the sentimental attitude towards Less Than Zero (the movie version is beloved) and the generation involved which includes Ellis and Smiley (and me). You can see this interview here. I find Ellis very well spoken and interesting. He says something cool about American Psycho..."about a lot of things happening in financial world today. I think (American Psycho, sic) is a portrait of those men (AIG, Goldman-Sachs) when they were very young". Ouch. Imperial Bedrooms isn't for everyone. I don't even want to recommend it to you. It is depressing. It is violent and perverse. There is something wrong with the people in the novel, but that's the point. Ellis has been likened to Philip Roth and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and I think those are good comparisons. But I see Ellis as more closely related to Jim Thompson, Raymond Chandler, William Burroughs and Aldous Huxley. He has always portrayed his culture at the very moment of it's setting...and this new novel is really in the noir, transgressive genre, like those writers Huxley and Burroughs and Thompson. Imperial Bedrooms is also quite beautifully written. There are parts of the novel that are so poetic and delicate...no one was more surprised than me. Except when I read his other recent novel, Lunar Park. Ellis plays a terrific "meta-fiction" kind of trick in the beginning of the novel which allows him the complete freedom to murder off any sentimentality us fans might have harboured for the original novel. He writes a response song that reveals passivity and composure might just be evil in disguise. In Ellis's world being a mannered successful person isn't all that cool. The quiet ones are the bad guys. And like the Lynchian worldview, if you don't act, then, the killer is inside you.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tori Jo Lau

    Do you remember when Bret Easton Ellis was a ground-breaking new author who wrote novels that shook you to the core, that angered you and made you feel like you were reading something new and unique? I know that's how I felt when I read American Psycho - it was a horrible look into a killer mind, one that stayed with me for a long time after I finished reading the book. I've read two books by Ellis recently, Imperial Bedrooms and Lunar Park. They both have the same problem in that there's nothin Do you remember when Bret Easton Ellis was a ground-breaking new author who wrote novels that shook you to the core, that angered you and made you feel like you were reading something new and unique? I know that's how I felt when I read American Psycho - it was a horrible look into a killer mind, one that stayed with me for a long time after I finished reading the book. I've read two books by Ellis recently, Imperial Bedrooms and Lunar Park. They both have the same problem in that there's nothing really new in them. Lunar Park at least has the meta enjoyment of Ellis being haunted by his own creations, but Imperial Bedrooms is merely a 'where are they now' of the Less Than Zero cast. And you know what, I don't care. It's boring, all of it. The whole book can be summed up as blah blah people suck blah blah Hollywood is heartless blah blah sex blah blah violence blah blah paranoia blah blah betrayals and so on. It's a huge pile of nothing, that was not challenging or even remotely interesting. There was one thing gained from reading Imperial Bedrooms however: I now know better than to bother with another novel by Bret Easton Ellis. If there was any doubt before they are now blown completely away - Ellis is irrelevant. He has nothing new to say, and he's not even saying the old stuff in a new way that makes it feel remotely fresh.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    While this books works on its own, it is really recommended reading Less than Zero to get the most out of Imperial Bedrooms. This book is set 25 years later, Clay has seemed to have moved on but when he finds himself back in Hollywood, he is sucked back into this world. My problem with Less than Zero as probably the fact that I read it 25 years too late; so it felt dated and I was probably too old to get the most out of it. Imperial Bedrooms seemed to be a better book, I’m not sure it’s the fact While this books works on its own, it is really recommended reading Less than Zero to get the most out of Imperial Bedrooms. This book is set 25 years later, Clay has seemed to have moved on but when he finds himself back in Hollywood, he is sucked back into this world. My problem with Less than Zero as probably the fact that I read it 25 years too late; so it felt dated and I was probably too old to get the most out of it. Imperial Bedrooms seemed to be a better book, I’m not sure it’s the fact that Bret Easton Ellis has improved as a writer, or that it didn’t feel dated. Ellis has a very unique style of writing, very descriptive making the characters feel very shallow in a well thought out way. He uses this tactic in American Psycho a lot and it made me feel like I was going psycho; so this book just ended up been an entertaining and interesting book to read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    M.J. Fiori

    I expect to be able to read YA fiction in under three hours (or a Charlaine Harris book), but not literary fiction. This slim, flimsy novel is not a worthy followup - especially after three decades - to that eighties-Zeitgeist-capturing classic, Less Than Zero. The characters have not aged well, natch; but much more seriously, their creator seems to have regressed in trying to invoke them again. While the jaded narrative voice of Clay (as an Alice who made the mistake of staying too long in the I expect to be able to read YA fiction in under three hours (or a Charlaine Harris book), but not literary fiction. This slim, flimsy novel is not a worthy followup - especially after three decades - to that eighties-Zeitgeist-capturing classic, Less Than Zero. The characters have not aged well, natch; but much more seriously, their creator seems to have regressed in trying to invoke them again. While the jaded narrative voice of Clay (as an Alice who made the mistake of staying too long in the shallow Wonderland of L.A.) is still pitch-perfect, other characters remain mere wisps or stand-ins. Blair is a cardboard cutout; everything having to do with Julian can be summed up by the single word "desperate." Actually, the main character here is L.A., but Ellis has nothing new or interesting or particularly current to contribute to the inordinate cultural output already devoted to our own American Gomorrah. Similarly, Ellis loves to compare himself to Raymond Chandler, but his work is nothing like Chandler's. So the city-as-character shtick is anemic and unforthcoming, while Ellis' attempt to persuade us that he is writing in a vein of "contemporary noir" falls flat. In fact, there is no mystique or enigma here, no sense of urgency about the story's forward momentum or its characters' arcs. This is not a thriller or a character study; worst of all, it has nothing lucid to say about our modern age. Whatever one's opinion of Ellis and his style, it must be argued that his early works did capture some essential, postmodern malaise that seemed to infect twentysomethings of the eighties. His name and his early books will always be at home in any conversation about that decade of brand-new MTV, cocaine-fed trustafarian culture, and disaffected youth left flat by the failure of the Age of Aquarius. Here, the only real mystery has to do with Rain (who is just too dumb, dull and grasping to be quite believable as a plot-driving character): What exactly ARE the personal merits that make it possible for her to seduce nearly every male character in Greater L.A.? Nothing that could possibly explain her charm is to be found in the pages of this book. I'm disappointed. I demand a sequel to The Rules of Attraction!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kendare Blake

    The opening pages of Imperial Bedrooms impart a fun, nostalgic feeling to those readers who have read Less Than Zero and seen the film. Spending more time with Clay and Julian and Blair is an almost warm prospect in the early pages, when you're wondering what the hell they've been up to for the last 25 years. But it doesn't take long to remember that Bret Easton Ellis is a master of the disconnect, and he's becoming so good at MENACE that I don't know what to do with him. This book, very short an The opening pages of Imperial Bedrooms impart a fun, nostalgic feeling to those readers who have read Less Than Zero and seen the film. Spending more time with Clay and Julian and Blair is an almost warm prospect in the early pages, when you're wondering what the hell they've been up to for the last 25 years. But it doesn't take long to remember that Bret Easton Ellis is a master of the disconnect, and he's becoming so good at MENACE that I don't know what to do with him. This book, very short and fairly focused, feels like a long vignette out of The Informers. Tonally it has a lot in common with Lunar Park, and plays similarly with metafiction, though to a lesser extent. Whatever. I love metafiction. It has a devious bent that permeates the entire read. Ellis never disappoints. Devour this book in a day, and don't be surprised if it leaves you with a vacant, slimy hole in the center of your humanity. Enjoy the feeling of being affected. Sidenote, the audio book is read by Andrew McCarthy, and the Imperial Bedrooms website has a video of him talking about doing it. Holy cow I would love to see him play THIS Clay.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tiny Pants

    I would advise potential readers -- and if you're reading this now, that may mean you -- don't read any reviews of this book. Stop reading this right now. It's written in a fairly elliptical way, with dialogue faintly sketching and shading in the bones of the plot, and so anything you do know will take away from what's there. Even though I read his interview in New York and the "Talk of the Town" piece on Bret Easton Ellis in the New Yorker, these mercifully didn't give anything away. Okay, they I would advise potential readers -- and if you're reading this now, that may mean you -- don't read any reviews of this book. Stop reading this right now. It's written in a fairly elliptical way, with dialogue faintly sketching and shading in the bones of the plot, and so anything you do know will take away from what's there. Even though I read his interview in New York and the "Talk of the Town" piece on Bret Easton Ellis in the New Yorker, these mercifully didn't give anything away. Okay, they said he was writing the book while living in the apartment that in the book belongs to Clay, but that doesn't tell you anything you couldn't already suspect if you knew anything about him. But then, then, I read the New Yorker "Books in Brief" capsule review -- just a few hundred words! Barely two inches of column text! -- and four words in that gave away the central plot of the book. I know, I know, I should just stop ever reading reviews if I haven't already read the book. But I'm not going to go back later and dig out that issue of the New Yorker, yada yada yada, so what can I do. Well, I can do this, and advise you, potential future reader, to stop reading this review, if you ignored my earlier directive. If you've already read it, or don't intend to read it, or simply don't care to follow advice from a stranger, read on. If you thought Lunar Park was meta, hold on to your effing hat. At first, I thought that this book was simply the fruits of Bret Easton Ellis having had one idea in the early 80s, and then milking it for all it was worth. (And this is definitely true.) But as it turns out, I think this is actually his attempt to rewrite the movie adaptation of Less Than Zero, and turn it into something that's more his style, aka torture porn. The beginning is, if indulgent, at least engaging, and particularly if you are very familiar with the book, the movie, and his subsequent writing, you will get the cozy feeling of being an insider who gets all the references. Throughout the middle, I was like, "You know what? He might just actually pull this off!" One thing Ellis does do well here is create a fictive Hollywood world that blends relatively seamlessly with the real thing -- to his credit, he is good at weaving in references without overdoing it. But I shouldn't have been surprised that it disappointed in the end. Maybe I'm misremembering Less Than Zero. But you know, I claimed it as my favorite book for a few years there (admittedly, my darkest years), and I've read it several times, so I think I remember it pretty well. In spite of the drug use, in spite of the sexual assault, in spite of well, all of it, I never really thought Clay was bad. He just was sort of, well, there, letting it wash over him. Things just happen, and the only thing bounding the book in any way or making it cohere into a plot is the school calendar, his Christmas break beginning and ending. Probably this is why I liked it so well -- if you've read many of my other reviews, you know that I sincerely enjoy books that are structured this way, with lots of characterization through description and minor incidents that show us more about the character, and without a big "will s/he find him/herself/fix the marriage/move on/overcome cancer/learn to love again" etc., etc. As this book reminds us, Clay shows up as a minor character in the background of The Rules of Attraction, and though my memory here is fuzzy, may well pop into American Psycho. It's only with Lunar Park that Ellis decides that we need to see Clay as not simply a blase 80s hedonist nihilist but as basically a West Coast Patrick Bateman. Why? Who the hell knows. Who knows how he comes up with any of this stuff? There was one scene in this book that I couldn't read in its entirety, and you really have to wonder how he comes up with these ways to degrade and destroy human bodies. One thing I will say in this book as compared to the others, for whatever reason, he's made everyone sort of vaguely bisexual, so even though women still get the worst of it (there isn't a single work in the Ellis oeuvre that makes you think he has anything but complete contempt for women, making my persistence in reading it all the stranger), he's definitely gotten more into humiliating and eviscerating men. Good times! Long story short: Don't believe the jacket copy that describes this as "a genuine literary event" unless you are the kind of person who thinks that Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is going to be "a genuine cinematic event." While it doesn't destroy whatever charm Less than Zero still holds for me (as I fully expected it to), it would have been better to let sleeping dogs lie.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Zachary

    BEE is one of the best stylists in English. Like early Joan Didion, but about glamorized nihilistic free-fall through the bars and palaces of LA in the oughts instead of... well, that, but in the late sixties. This book is awesome - reading most fiction is somehow not that far off from the experience of eating paste - to put it more kindly, it seems perhaps unnecessary - but Imperial Bedrooms has a vision, actually feels like something. The preponderance of froth-mouthed negative reviews raises m BEE is one of the best stylists in English. Like early Joan Didion, but about glamorized nihilistic free-fall through the bars and palaces of LA in the oughts instead of... well, that, but in the late sixties. This book is awesome - reading most fiction is somehow not that far off from the experience of eating paste - to put it more kindly, it seems perhaps unnecessary - but Imperial Bedrooms has a vision, actually feels like something. The preponderance of froth-mouthed negative reviews raises many interesting questions, such as what happened to rigorous public education in the US? Prop 13 and its ilk, I suppose.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Bret Easton Ellis has always adopted two distinct personae as an author—that of the lurid purveyor of ultra violence and base sexual appetites set out to shock a bourgeois critical establishment that dares to question his literary mettle, or the closet moralist who wags his finger at the involvement of his characters, and the attendant interest of his fans, in said behavior. Interestingly enough, it is these same warring impulses that put Ellis in a real narrative predicament in Imperial Bedroom Bret Easton Ellis has always adopted two distinct personae as an author—that of the lurid purveyor of ultra violence and base sexual appetites set out to shock a bourgeois critical establishment that dares to question his literary mettle, or the closet moralist who wags his finger at the involvement of his characters, and the attendant interest of his fans, in said behavior. Interestingly enough, it is these same warring impulses that put Ellis in a real narrative predicament in Imperial Bedrooms, a sequel written for the 25th Anniversary of his first novel, Less Than Zero. Does he force his narrator, Clay, to undergo a moral catharsis and risk scorn from his fans and critics alike for attempting to humanize the hollow, affectless character remembered from the earlier novel, or does he remain true to the moral turpitude and relentless vacuity of Zero and risk simply repeating the very narrative that he is supposedly continuing? After reading Imperial Bedrooms, I think that I can answer the latter question with a certain degree of certainty: Ellis is not afraid of repetition. Where I may see narrative stasis, Ellis likely sees thematic unity with his earlier work. As stated, this is a literal sequel that features most of the same characters, in mostly the same emotional states, from Less than Zero. One short interlude Clay spends with two teenage prostitutes—one male, one female—would be better suited to Patrick Bateman of American Psycho fame. The conspiracy murder plot echoes the equally aimless and unresolved terrorist plot of Glamorama. The threatening phone calls and texts, along with the meta-narrative that includes Ellis himself as a character in the novel, are brought in part and parcel from his last disappointment, 2005’s Lunar Park. The only thing missing from Imperial Bedrooms, other than the kitchen sink, may be the literal vampire from the interconnected vignettes of The Informers (although Clay has written a screenplay for a movie similarly named The Listeners). Equal parts Hollywood satire, Raymond Chandler noir parody, and a mixtape of Ellis himself, Imperial Bedrooms can’t help but feel like a muddled toss-off—in fact, at a mere 170 pages, and sporting margins wide enough to fit your thumbs in, it is hard to even call it a novel. However, if there is interest to be found here, it is in trying to decide where Clay stands at the narrative’s end in relation to the question I posed at the outset: is he a reformed hedonist, or, as David Bowie might say, is our Major Tom now just “hitting an all time low”? In the best passages of the novel, Clay reveals a newfound vulnerability as he becomes involved with Rain Turner, an aspiring starlet who is trying to net a role in the film being made from his screenplay (if his sway as a producer trumps his insignificance as a mere writer is never fully revealed). And while the commentary on the fetishization of youth and beauty in Hollywood is stale and clichéd, the scenes where Clay tries to perfect an intimate, monogamous relationship with Rain after decades of destroying any chance he has ever had at one stand as some of the most emotionally resonant Ellis has ever written. However, as the novel’s climax seems to hint, as much as Clay may feign a wanting of love and commitment, glimmers of hope in the world of Ellis quickly fade. Clay may have to confront the fact that the moral darkness of his peers and his L.A. can never match the darkness within, the darkness that he hides from the ones he claims to love, and that he struggles to hide from himself. So, as to the verdict on Clay’s moral rehabilitation: like the intended genre of the novel, and the success of the novel as a sequel to the seminal Zero, Ellis pitches it somewhere down the middle. How appropriate for this most moral of carnival barkers.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    To respond to some of the deliriously upset reviewers of IB: I'd hazard a guess at BEE being rather delighted with such a response. The book is about paranoid anhedonic hell. It's uncomfortable reading, often. It also contains stretches of dazzling, vivid writing the likes of which no-one else can evoke, particularly in formulating a world emptied out of all but appearance and machination. Ellis is an important writer mapping nightmarish territory and shouldn't be for everyone. To respond to some of the deliriously upset reviewers of IB: I'd hazard a guess at BEE being rather delighted with such a response. The book is about paranoid anhedonic hell. It's uncomfortable reading, often. It also contains stretches of dazzling, vivid writing the likes of which no-one else can evoke, particularly in formulating a world emptied out of all but appearance and machination. Ellis is an important writer mapping nightmarish territory and shouldn't be for everyone.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Shaffer

    An LA noir that wouldn’t have been out of place as a Hard Case Crime book. Not sure that’s what most Ellis readers wanted out of a sequel to LESS THAN ZERO, but I thought the dialogue was snappy and the plot moved quickly.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sabra Embury

    A screenwriter named Clay returns to the LA scene, after being MIA for a while in NY; he runs the same circle of friends, the same places, the same parties, drinking Grey Goose here and there in Hollywood. Clay begins to receive mysterious texts on his iPhone, he thinks he's being followed, he meets a hot blond; she must know some tricks, she must have (all of the above of) some killer ______; because she is the reason why everything is happening, why enemies and death are residual effects for t A screenwriter named Clay returns to the LA scene, after being MIA for a while in NY; he runs the same circle of friends, the same places, the same parties, drinking Grey Goose here and there in Hollywood. Clay begins to receive mysterious texts on his iPhone, he thinks he's being followed, he meets a hot blond; she must know some tricks, she must have (all of the above of) some killer ______; because she is the reason why everything is happening, why enemies and death are residual effects for the exclusive rights of her tequila wafting, naked body, passed vigorously amongst mutually obsessed friends. And all she ever wanted to be...was famous. As an LA native, I appreciated the landmark mentions. As a person keeping an eye on the screenwriting industry here, I was entertained by the desperate-talentless-actress-trying-to-fuck-her-way-to-the-top narrative. As a woman reading a book written by a man describing the situation of a female practicing pussypower polyandry amongst slimy heterosexual movie industry people, this is why Ellis' books are labeled "fiction" versus "self-help" or "cultural anthropology." Ellis' far-fetchedness can often times be bewildering from build-up--right through a bloody suit, a botched facelift, or a violent Ex-Lax laced three-way. But this is indeed what makes him adorable.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Snotchocheez

    As if the infantile devil silhouette (Halloween self-portrait?) on the cover of its paltry 169 pages wasn't a dead giveaway that "imperial Bedrooms", the sequel to BEE's 1985 less-than-stellar "Less than Zero" was going to be a clunker, all I had to do was turn to the last page to see the "1985-2010" designation. This sequel was 25 years in the making! God, what an insipid, uninspired, self-absorbed, vapid piece of nothingness this was. I vowed after reading his paean to product placement and to As if the infantile devil silhouette (Halloween self-portrait?) on the cover of its paltry 169 pages wasn't a dead giveaway that "imperial Bedrooms", the sequel to BEE's 1985 less-than-stellar "Less than Zero" was going to be a clunker, all I had to do was turn to the last page to see the "1985-2010" designation. This sequel was 25 years in the making! God, what an insipid, uninspired, self-absorbed, vapid piece of nothingness this was. I vowed after reading his paean to product placement and torture porn "American Psycho" I'd give up trying to understand why BEE has been heralded by many as the consummate capturer of the Zeitgeist of the disaffected. Only an intriguing review by Stephen King enticed me enough to give "Lunar Park" a try, and that novel, unlike his preceding 5, was borderline brilliant. Starting out as a Mea Culpa of sorts for penning banal crap like American Psycho and Glamorama, he uses his penchant for self-absorption to good use by plunking himself in the middle of a truly eerie meta-reality. After finally being won over with "LP", coupled with a glowing review in Entertainment Weekly of "IB", I figured I'd give him another shot. Bad, bad choice. I found this for $1.00 at a local thrift store...and let's just say, I'm seriously contemplating asking for my money back. It's that bad. Yeah, most of the same cast of substance-abusing, directionless, horny kids of privilege from "LTZ" are back (even one that died in the movie version) except now, 25 years later, are 40-something Gen X'ers tangentially involved in the movie industry. It's revealed early on that one of the principal characters (actually Julian, the one that died in the movie version of "LTZ") is violently killed in murky cicumstances involving, it is hinted at, Mexican drug cartels and the slimy underbelly of the movie- (and money-) making machine. The main character/narrator Clay (who also narrates "LTZ", and is now a screenwriter/movie producer) spends the bulk of this bloated piffle jumping from seemingly every haute restaurant, nitery, and hot spot in Los Angeles meeting up with his LTZ friends and recreating the last days and circumstances that led up to Julian's grizzly demise. Instead of providing a meaty murder mystery, though, BEE (in BEE-like fashion) seems more interested in showing off his insider cred than actually bothering with coherent dialog or plausible plot development. Some might argue that BEE is most effective in capturing the Zeitgeist of (as Marilyn Manson calls them) "the Beautiful People"; I would contend, though, that in doing so, a writer must be mindful not to alienate the reader with banality. This latest effort of BEE's, which often reads like an incomplete screenplay and half-hearted vanity project rather than a novel, seems like it was sitting in the back of the author's closet, then hastily cobbled together to satisfy a contractual obligation with his publisher. [and what is up with the title? Is it a prerequisite to enjoying this novel to have foreknowledge that "imperial Bedrooms" is an Elvis Costello album and song from 1982? (a fact that I had to Google as BEE never bothers to explain its significance or relevance to the novel.) (sorry, Elvis fans) Having lived in a rather poor section of LA for over 30 years, I thought at first maybe he was referring to LAs longest east/west thoroughfare, Imperial Highway, a street that runs from bedroom communities in Orange County and dissects LA straight through the skeeziest parts of South Central, and empties out at LAX in Inglewood with a panoply of seedy pay-by-the-hour-esque motels, but that, evidently would give BEE too much imaginative credit: in BEE's insular world, all roads in LA lead to Chateau Marmont, the Sunset Towers, Dan Tana's, Chasen's, Ivy at the Shore, the Getty Museum, Spago, etc. The sad irony is that, chances are, the omnipresent drugs his protagonists surround themselves with probably came ultimately from a drug dealer within a few miles of the real Imperial Hwy, a fact (I'm sure) totally lost on the befogged BEE].

  26. 4 out of 5

    FrumpBurger

    Read this book today, yessir, and...what can I say? I don't like it much. Not because, as another member so smugly put it, I can't deal with not liking characters in a book, or because it's misanthropic and misogynistic. Nope, the reason I don't like this book is, simply put, because I. Just. Don't. Give. A. Fuck. I don't give a fuck about the banal characters, the boring ass storyline, the mediocre writing. I don't give a fuck about the trite "Hollywood is empty and everyone is awful" sentiment Read this book today, yessir, and...what can I say? I don't like it much. Not because, as another member so smugly put it, I can't deal with not liking characters in a book, or because it's misanthropic and misogynistic. Nope, the reason I don't like this book is, simply put, because I. Just. Don't. Give. A. Fuck. I don't give a fuck about the banal characters, the boring ass storyline, the mediocre writing. I don't give a fuck about the trite "Hollywood is empty and everyone is awful" sentiment that seems to be swirling throughout the pages or the douchey looking photo of the author on the back cover. I just don't give a fuck. Do you give a fuck? Good for you. More power to you. Maybe I'm just not sophisticated enough for this sort of novel. Maybe it's because I didn't read its prequel and am in no way invested in the story of these characters. Maybe it's because I can't see the deeper meaning of what seems to me like a superficial plot that's just perfect to be made into a shitty movie with overpaid, under-skilled actors. Or maybe it just isn't that good. It doesn't contain any hidden truth about human nature. It's just fucking boring.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    I am a fan of 'Less Than Zero', it's an important book on nihilistic youth and the boredom of the wealthy. Although this picks up on the same main characters years later, it reads nothing like LTZ, in fact it really is quite bad, shocking for the sake of shocks?, yes. Written with a nasty tone it's a sort of modern-noir chiller with some seriously disturbing scenes towards the end. One plus though, the sparse and distant nature I did like, and just about saved it. I am a fan of 'Less Than Zero', it's an important book on nihilistic youth and the boredom of the wealthy. Although this picks up on the same main characters years later, it reads nothing like LTZ, in fact it really is quite bad, shocking for the sake of shocks?, yes. Written with a nasty tone it's a sort of modern-noir chiller with some seriously disturbing scenes towards the end. One plus though, the sparse and distant nature I did like, and just about saved it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andie

    I'd been looking forward to this book for months. Having read everything that Bret Easton Ellis has published, and counting three of those books (American Psycho, Lunar Park, and Glamorama) among my top 20 books of all time, I couldn't wait to see what Imperial Bedrooms had in store for me (aside from a great title). I was somewhat shocked to picked up this slim volume at the book store and realize that it was less than 200 pages long. More of a novella, really, than a novel, but I paid the $27 I'd been looking forward to this book for months. Having read everything that Bret Easton Ellis has published, and counting three of those books (American Psycho, Lunar Park, and Glamorama) among my top 20 books of all time, I couldn't wait to see what Imperial Bedrooms had in store for me (aside from a great title). I was somewhat shocked to picked up this slim volume at the book store and realize that it was less than 200 pages long. More of a novella, really, than a novel, but I paid the $27 for it anyway. Could have read it in one sitting but I stretched it out to two. Consider this Bret Easton Ellis distilled... many of his usual themes condensed into a much shorter than usual format. One of the things I enjoy most about his book is the way he takes his time setting the scene... maybe his characters tend to be drenched in too much detail, but I enjoy taking some time to get to the action. I suppose since this was a "sequel" to Less than Zero perhaps he felt he'd already gotten that out of the way (disclaimer: I haven't read Less Than Zero since 2005 and it didn't really stay with me that much. I took this book as kind of a one-off) The "meta" nature of the book, like most of his others, was amusing- the main character, Clay, reflecting on how one of his friends wrote a novel which was then turned into a movie about him and all of his friends; the references to other places and things from previous books (Camden, the university that all of his characters have gone to, is mentioned; and of course "disappear here", from Lunar Park). I enjoyed the ominous tone, the mystery and the feeling that something truly awful was about to happen. However, this book was so intentionally convoluted (much like Glamorama) that honestly, I'm not quite sure what happened. Clay proved to be a very unreliable narrator, but to what extent is he responsible for the many disappearances and the violence that occurs throughout the book? I suppose the haziness and the questions that linger after the end of this are interesting but I guess I wanted to leave it with more clear-cut feelings. Certainly not bad, but certainly not among my favorites.

  29. 4 out of 5

    BAM Endlessly Booked

    Never until this book did I find Andrew McCarthy's voice so damn sexy. I swear Easton Ellis knows how to write about dysfunction especially in my generation. He captures it perfectly. Debauchery for everyone!!!! Never until this book did I find Andrew McCarthy's voice so damn sexy. I swear Easton Ellis knows how to write about dysfunction especially in my generation. He captures it perfectly. Debauchery for everyone!!!!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sullivan Wheeler

    Dear Bret Easton Ellis: we're through. Imperial Bedrooms was the last of your books that I will be reading. It's the last time I'm going to be fooled into thinking that maybe you've moved beyond your forty-year-old adolescent, violent misogynistic buillshit. Because now I realize: it's all you know how to do. You've got nothing else to say except, "Check it out -- this guy's a rich, white douchebag who's dead inside!" It's not interesting, it's not cute, and as a writer you're not maturing. And Dear Bret Easton Ellis: we're through. Imperial Bedrooms was the last of your books that I will be reading. It's the last time I'm going to be fooled into thinking that maybe you've moved beyond your forty-year-old adolescent, violent misogynistic buillshit. Because now I realize: it's all you know how to do. You've got nothing else to say except, "Check it out -- this guy's a rich, white douchebag who's dead inside!" It's not interesting, it's not cute, and as a writer you're not maturing. And the tragedy is that you are actually a talented writer. With the exception of Glamorama, your prose always keeps me reading (and, full disclosure, I actually ejoyed a lot of Lunar Park; maybe that's why I thought maybe you were capable of growing up). But since you insist on writing practically the same book over and over again, I'm afraid that I see no point in coninuing to read your books.

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