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The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis

The Informers (1994)

by Bret Easton Ellis (Author)

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I don’t know why I keep coming back to Bret Easton Ellis, I never seem to overly enjoy his vacuous characters but something keeps drawing me back. The Informers is my forth Ellis book and this one is a collection of short stories that ultimately link together to make an overall story. Think Crash (the movie) but with shallow characters. The Informers follow the lives of several interconnected characters, they all eat at the same places; sleep with the same people and pretty much act like each other.

Each chapter is told from a different character in a first person prospective and in the end each point of view come together to make a very loosely connected story. The characters remind me a lot of Less than Zero but most of the characters in The Informers are supposed to be adults. There are a lot of conversations in this book between different characters and this is the part of the book that Bret Easton Ellis does best. He seems to be able to have a lot of conversations and still drive the plot without adding to much more and the interactions between the people seem to feel very natural.

The book feels shallow and cynical; it tries to spotlight a moral decline of Californian life. Most of Bret Easton Ellis novels feel the same, he is often called a moral satirist but I often feel like he is just a nihilist. But I still feel the need to read his books; even if I don’t enjoy them (except for Imperial Bedrooms). Ellis has an interesting style and if I rate his books from worst to best, it looks like he is improving as a writer with age. This might be the fact that his books are more and more metafictional and that seems to help add depth into a book a shallow annoying characters. ( )
  knowledgelost | Mar 31, 2013 |
Collection of short stories set in LA in the early-mid 80s, using many of the same characters. Basically an inferior riff on the themes of Less Than Zero - the characters are drugged and bored out of any emotional connection with the world, which makes the book tough to engage with at first, until the later stories show what that state of affairs leads to and some outlandish horror occurs almost unnoticed. Decent enough by the end, but basically the same ground he covered in a far more impressive novel a decade earlier. ( )
  roblong | Sep 6, 2012 |
2 vote ThrivingKings | Mar 8, 2011 |
I don't know how they make tranquilisers. Do they mine the ingredients? Lithium sounds like some sort of mineral one would chip out of the earth. But maybe they distil the vital ingredients from seawater, or hang around in the upper atmosphere, harvesting it by dangling from the wicker baskets of hot air balloons with huge butterfly nets or vacuum cleaners or something.

I'm fairly sure that the vital ingredient is not some sort of secretion you can only get from the gland of a baby baboon or something...because the characters in BEE's 'the informers' take so many drugs that if it's only one tenth as many chill pills as are actually taken in real life in LA then any animal that produced the goods would have been used to extinction by now and Los Angeles would be a lot more tense.

Let's assume then that there is a vast factory churning out millions of happy pills that make the city by the Pacific so placid.

In fact, the characters are so medicated that they are numb, disconnected from their surroundings and family by a chemical haze. If they stop taking their drugs they sober up long enough to realise that things have got even worse since whatever happened to get them on drugs in the first place happened.

This sense of numbness is communicated in three ways.

Firstly, the characters...talk in...broken…sentences. This indicates that for them the world is happening in slow motion, that their thoughts swim through their minds like lazy otters rather than the crazed electrons the rest of us have to put up with. This is incredibly annoying to read and does a fantastic job of conveying just how annoying it must be to actually experience. Just as one has an impulse to finish the sentences of a stutterer, so one has the urge to batter these dopey drugged up buggers to death with a coal scuttle.

Secondly, they wear their wayfairer sunglasses indoors at night. This means they are not only depressed and medicated, they are twats.

Thirdly, they completely freak out when their prescription is not renewed automatically and start mixing and matching other medication.

So the characters wander dream like through a LA landscape where the sunshine bleaches the vitality out of everything. But there is peril here - dark hints of dismembered bodies dumped in the desert, and also of bodies drained of blood.

That's right. Vampires. And once they turn up the numbness vanishes and the book becomes fang sharp.

BEE's vampires are pure predator. They move through the LA singles scene like sharks, top of the food chain they drain adults, kids, pets with less thought than a teenager draining an alcopop. They are though, thoroughly modern, with pimped out coffins and cleaning women adept at getting blood stains out of the carpet.

There is a very brief and very intriguing mention of a vampire killer after a pile of ash is found at the bottom of a disused swimming pool below where a stake, made from a whittled down baseball bat, has been driven into the wall of the pool, presumably through the vamp. I wanted to know more about that.

So there are tranqued out zombies, vampires and, of course, monsters in the form of weak, evil and despicable human beings.

The disconnection extends to the structure of the novel itself, which could be mistaken for a collection of short stories. Each chapter is about a different character and characters from one thread pop up in other chapters and BEE does a very good job of showing us the same character from a different perspective so that somebody who appeared merely dopey in one chapter is shown to be doped up to the eyeballs in another, hence their rather slow manner…of…talking, acting and affection for sporting wayfairers indoors, presumably because they consider that if they hide the size of their pupils, nobody will know that they’re baked on weed and pills.

It's a strange book this - a series of stories about characters that are not particularly likeable that shares no real connecting theme apart from disconnection with normality. But hey, vampires on drugs - what's not to like? ( )
1 vote macnabbs | Aug 1, 2010 |
Grade: 6.5/10Thoughts: This is probably one of the most messed up books I have read—next to [b:Slaughter-House 5|4981|Slaughterhouse-Five|Kurt Vonnegut|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1227252234s/4981.jpg|1683562] and [b:A Clockwork Orange|227463|A Clockwork Orange|Anthony Burgess|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/410JOm46bdL._SL75_.jpg|23596]. It was written in such a way that it made the reader go “what the fuck?” a lot. Instead of the characters holding care for others, they only cared about the styles of the day. It was really a weird book and you can tell it was from the same man who wrote [b:American Psycho|28676|American Psycho|Bret Easton Ellis|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1223432558s/28676.jpg|2270060]. It was intense, it was scary, it was really weird. ( )
  crayonwillow | Jun 7, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679743243, Paperback)

In this seductive and chillingly nihilistic novel, Bret Easton Ellis, the author of American Psycho, returns to Los Angeles, the city whose moral badlands he portrayed unforgettably in Less Than Zero. This time is the early eighties. The characters go to the same schools and eat at the same restaurants. Their voices enfold us as seamlessly as those of DJs heard over a car radio. They have sex with the same boys and girls and buy from the same dealers. In short, they are connected in the only way people can be in that city.


Dirk sees his best friend killed in a desert car wreck, then rifles through his pockets for a last joint before the ambulance comes. Cheryl, a wannabe newscaster, chides her future stepdaughter, “You're tan but you don't look happy.” Jamie is a clubland carnivore with a taste for human blood. As rendered by Ellis, their interactions compose a chilling, fascinating, and outrageous descent into the abyss beneath L.A.'s gorgeous surfaces.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:50:23 -0400)

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A collection of stories on the dream factory that is Los Angeles and the nasty people it produces.

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