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Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
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Less Than Zero (original 1985; edition 1998)

by Bret Easton Ellis

Series: Clay (1)

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4,102471,229 (3.44)92
Member:nicole2222
Title:Less Than Zero
Authors:Bret Easton Ellis
Info:Vintage (1998), Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Your library
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Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis (1985)

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» See also 92 mentions

English (40)  French (3)  Swedish (2)  German (1)  All languages (46)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Catcher in the Rye with cocaine.
1 vote BrianFannin | May 31, 2013 |
The defense I see most often of Ellis is: "You just don't get the joke." And could there be a more annoying defense? How can you even respond to that? It's meaningless.

And it's not a joke. It's satire; that's totally different.

I spent tonight arguing about Ellis with some very smart contrarians, and here's what they said: Ellis has captured the soulless Me First Generation, and their failure to connect with life, in a really effective way. He refuses his rival David Foster Wallace's edict that literature has to solve something; he insists, with merciless implacability, on simply showing it to you. No solutions, no conclusions.

They're right, and that's not valueless. Ellis has achieved something. I actually know these people - not Ellis' caricatures of them, but the real people - and I see what he's describing.

The only problem is here's the first sentence of this book: "People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles." This is a metaphor, I happen to know because I was an English major, and it's fucking stupid. And it's his big theme! This! People are afraid to merge! Like he's discovered some grand truth! He'll return to it like fifty times!

So. It's not a useless book. It's a decent satire of shallow pop culture sociopathy. Like Wallace, Ellis is concerned with connection: he wants us to engage with life. (To "merge," even!) Unlike Wallace, he refuses to make helpful suggestions; if you're irritated by Wallace's desperately wide-eyed sincerity, Ellis might speak to you.

But for fuck's sake, it is all awfully tedious. ( )
1 vote AlCracka | Apr 2, 2013 |
Impressive and thought-provoking for a first novel written by a 20-year old. It feels a little contrived or over-done at times, but is a good book. Definitely worth reading. ( )
  Poindextrix | Apr 1, 2013 |
I couldn't get the movie version out of my head and I think that affected how I felt about the novel. There are many differences, things that happen in the novel that didn't make it into the movie and vice versa. The novel seemed flat compared to the movie - it didn't get close enough to any of the characters for me to feel attached to them. In some ways, this seemed more fitting. Certainly the novel lives up to its title. The net emotional effect was "less than zero." The audio version from Audible came with a fifteen-minute interview with the author, which was interesting. He said (approximately) that many readers seemed to view the novel as a way to live vicariously through and see into the lives of these rich teenagers, when what he meant to write was something more critical about their place in society and the effects of their lives on others and themselves. I fell somewhere in between. ( )
  anneearney | Mar 31, 2013 |
25 years ago Less Than Zero was published by a 21 year old Bret Easton Ellis with reviews like "Oh, this is just nihilism. These people don't exist! There's nobody that rich and stupid and narcissistic!" (The New Yorker, June 1985). Reading it now, we all probably know self-destructive people like these. Less than Zero has developed a cult following and feels like you are reading a diary of a lost and unsure rich 18 year-old who come back to the destructive neighbourhood of his past. Though out the book you are unsure if Clay will even grow or learn from all this and it almost feels like he doesn’t. ( )
  knowledgelost | Mar 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (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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Epigraph
Information from the Swedish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
This is the game that moves as you play... - X / There's a feeling I get when I look to the West... - Led Zeppelin
Dedication
Information from the Swedish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
For Joe McGinniss
First words
People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles.
Quotations
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:00 -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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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