June 2005

Arts & Letters

'Lunar Park' by Bret Easton Ellis

By Zora Simic

In his latest novel Bret Easton Ellis introduces a narrator, also called Bret Easton Ellis, whom we are encouraged not to trust for any number of reasons. He’s a writer, he cheats on his wife, he’s estranged from his son, he drinks too much, he takes drugs and he’s not even nice to his dog. This is a man who needs to deal with his demons, a formerly glamorous literary prodigy who moves to the suburbs with his ravishing movie-star wife Jayne, their disaffected 11-year-old son Robby and her inappropriately attired six-year-old daughter Sarah. Most often we find Ellis in his study, swigging vodka and checking emails and flirting with his latest novel Teenage Pussy. “I was creating an entirely new genre, my bout of writer’s block had finished.” Yet a mid-life crisis looms, in which the narrator is forced to confront his bad habits, parent-teacher nights, a feral toy named Terby and visitations from ghosts past, fictional and otherwise.

In many respects, Lunar Park is classic Ellis: the sly winks at contemporary culture, the ambiguous misogyny, the decadent self-obsession, the obligatory party set-piece (those “intricately patterned, highly choreographed events”). However, as he suggests more than once, Lunar Park is also what happens when the privileged frat boy of his debut novel Less Than Zero tries to grow up. Or perhaps the novel is penance – or revenge – for American Psycho. Part of the fun is trying to figure out why Ellis wrote the book. The other enjoyable part is actually reading it. Despite its layer of distracting meta-fiction, Lunar Park succeeds as both psycho-horror and as a portrait of the artist, in hangover mode.

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