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Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

Less Than Zero (1985)

by Bret Easton Ellis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Clay (1), Coleção LPM Pocket

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4,268511,161 (3.44)103
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English (43)  French (3)  Swedish (2)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (50)
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
This book moves at a frenetic pace. It seemed like I'd read 10 pages before realizing I was holding my breath. In the end, the story made me feel kind of ill (similar to Selby's "Requiem for a Dream"). Even though I grew up in Southern California, I couldn't relate to much of this. I may as well have been reading about life on Mars. I mean, I've never even seen cocaine up close and personal. That said, the writing is effective and grabbing. The fact that one scene (you'll know which one) made me nauseated is testament to the power of the writing. ( )
  KimHooperWrites | Mar 6, 2015 |
This edition is published by Vintage Contemporaries, largely on critical reception, it seems. Originally published in 1985 and set in Los Angeles, it does not resemble anything close to Los Angeles at the time. Clay is a freshman from somewhere in West Los Angeles and now going to school on the East Coast. He doesn't fit in and becomes bored and shows symptoms of paranoia after he abuses illegal drugs and alcohol. I only read this due it being set in Los Angeles. The only thing going for it (not much in other words) are the references to KROQ songs and bands. Basically Ellis' idea of boredom is mistaken for existentialist angst and Los Angeles is the No Exit stage location. My view is that this book could have been set anywhere and the only reason to set it in Los Angeles are the references to alternative music at the time. It could have been set in New York but Jim Carroll had already written his The Basketball Diaries. We get stuck with this. Like Clay, we lose. NOT Worth the time to read.
  sacredheart25 | Feb 1, 2015 |
I've read both Ellis's 'American Psycho' and 'Rules of Attraction,' and thought it'd be good to read his first published book.

The story is about a kid named Clay, on break from his school on the East Coast, visiting with family and friends back in Los Angeles. The plot sounds simple enough, but add the 80s, copious amounts of drugs, sex and money, and also inner turmoil, teen angst and existentialism (and still more drugs, sex, and money) and you've got something more familiar to Ellis's other works. It definitely gives an inside look at the lives of privileged teens living the fast life in Southern California.

The story reads pretty quick and easy. Some of the 80s pop culture references may be lost on most kids these days, but trust me, write them down, look them up and learn a bit of 80s culture. There are no formal chapters, just sections/extended-passages. This seems appropriate as the story itself doesn't really follow any sort of formal structure. Things just happen. And then it kind've just ends. You're left with a few questions, and given virtually no answers...Luckily Ellis wrote a sequel, to continue the story...25 years later!

I liked it enough to bump it up an extra star, as I too grew up in Southern California and experienced a lot of the 'plasticy', nihilistic tendencies of the affluent in Southern California. ( )
  agvuerdua | Nov 4, 2014 |
Having recently read Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho, I was interested in reading other books by this same author. I can see Less Than Zero being a build-up to American Psycho, although the former actually became Book One of a different series later.

This is not the kind of book that you read for its story. It's a voyeuristic look into life of older teens in wealthy, film industry-affected, drug-overpowered, music and club-filled areas of California (mostly Los Angeles and Palm Springs).

The story follows Clay, an eighteen-year-old, who is back in Los Angeles during a 4-month hiatus from college in New Hampshire. He has an on again/off again relationship with his girlfriend Blair, a dependent relationship on his drug dealer Rip, and a puzzling relationship with Julian, a not-so-good drug dealer who borrows money from Clay for reasons unknown.

What do Clay and his friends and acqaintances do with their time? They really don't know. You'll find clubs, parties, film talk, ostentatious wealth, sex, as well as drug dealing and drug taking in this story. The narrative displays scene after scene of disaffected youth. It's almost as if you're watching a documentary of what happens to youngsters who have no responsibility nor a need to do anything significant with their lives.

The story is depressing, but quite well told. I hope that Clay and his friends, most of whom are in college (many at UCLA or USC) in this story change by the time they graduate! I'll have to check out Book Two. ( )
  SqueakyChu | Oct 17, 2014 |
Profoundly disturbing. ( )
  champerdamper | Aug 13, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
The narrator, Clay, and his friends - who have names like Rip, Blair, Kim, Cliff, Trent and Alana - all drive BMW's and Porsches, hang out at the Polo Lounge and Spago, and spend their trust funds on designer clothing, porno films and, of course, liquor and drugs. None of them, so far as the reader can tell, has any ambitions, aspirations, or interest in the world at large. And their philosophy, if they have any at all, represents a particularly nasty combination of EST and Machiavelli: ''If you want something, you have the right to take it. If you want to do something, you have the right to do it.''

» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bret Easton Ellisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Antolín Rato, MarianoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Swedish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
This is the game that moves as you play... - X / There's a feeling I get when I look to the West... - Led Zeppelin
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For Joe McGinniss
First words
People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles.
Disappear here!
The psychiatrist I see during the four weeks I'm back is young and has a beard and drives a 450 SL and has a house in Malibu (...) Sometimes I'll yell at him and he'll yell back. I tell him that I have this bizarre sexual fantasies and his interest will increase noticeably. I'll start to laugh for no reason and then feel sick.
Next day I stop by Julian's house in Bel Air with the money in a green envelope. He's lying on his bed in a wet bathing suit watching MTV. It's dark in the room, the only light coming from the black and white images on the television.
"You must do something"
"Oh, I don't know."
"What do you do?" she asks.
"Things, I guess". I sit on the matress.
"Like what?"
"I don't know. Things." My voice breaks and for a moment I think about the coyote and I think that I'm going to cry, but it passes and I just want to get my vest and get out of here.
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Haunting, scary, find fuck.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679781498, Paperback)

Set in Los Angeles in the early 1980's, this coolly mesmerizing novel is a raw, powerful portrait of a lost generation who have experienced sex, drugs, and disaffection at too early an age, in a world shaped by casual nihilism, passivity, and too much money a place devoid of feeling or hope.

Clay comes home for Christmas vacation from his Eastern college and re-enters a landscape of limitless privilege and absolute moral entropy, where everyone drives Porches, dines at Spago, and snorts mountains of cocaine. He tries to renew feelings for his girlfriend, Blair, and for his best friend from high school, Julian, who is careering into hustling and heroin. Clay's holiday turns into a dizzying spiral of desperation that takes him through the relentless parties in glitzy mansions, seedy bars, and underground rock clubs and also into the seamy world of L.A. after dark.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:12 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Returning to Los Angeles from his Eastern college for a Christmas vacation in the early 1980s, Clay "reenters a landscape of limitless privilege and absolute moral entropy, where everyone drives Porsches, dines at Spago, and snorts mountains of cocaine ... A raw, powerful portrait of a lost generation."--Back cover.… (more)

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