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Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis

Imperial Bedrooms (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Bret Easton Ellis

Series: Clay (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9343514,700 (2.91)15
Clay, a successful screenwriter, has returned from New York to Los Angeles to help cast his new movie, and he's soon drifting through a long-familiar circle that will leave him no choice but to plumb the darkest recesses of his character and come to terms with his proclivity for betrayal.
Title:Imperial Bedrooms
Authors:Bret Easton Ellis
Info:Knopf (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 192 pages
Collections:Your library

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Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis (2010)


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English (31)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
For the rich and spoiled, the nihilism of the '80s never ended. It just went deeper into self delusion.

I guess Ellis didn't want us to look at 'Less Than Zero' as some sort of 1980s artifact encased in glass, so he wrote 'Imperial Bedrooms'.

Okay then. ( )
  authenticjoy | Mar 29, 2019 |
I wasn't sure what to expect from 'Imperial Bedrooms'. Bret Easton Ellis' previous novel 'Lunar Park' had exploded all of his past work in extraordinary fashion. And before 'Lunar Park' each of his books had been more stylistically complex, bigger and grander somehow - 'The Informers' is not an exception as it had been written about the same time as 'Less Than Zero'. It would seem that the slate had been wiped clean.

Ellis seems to have had other ideas and unfinished business with his first literary alter ego, Clay.

I love 'Less Than Zero', even though I had nothing on the surface in common with these bored spoiled monsters, I recognized them and felt a kinship in the feeling underlying the admittedly thin story. Finishing 'Zero' I had the same feeling of awe I had when I finished 'The Great Gatsby'. Stop your judging--I'm serious. When I heard that 'Imperial Bedrooms' was going to be a sequel I was skeptical.

Soon after my brows came down on that fact, my sister brought home an issue of Interview Magazine that had an interview with Ellis. In it he was so abruptly dismissive of nostalgic sentiment towards Zero or its characters (such as when the interviewer wondered if Clay would ever find happiness) that I became hopeful. His talk about it coming from a "dark" period in his life after a recent relocation to L.A. and other factors won me over, as was the point I suppose. But, maybe, I thought, there was something left to say after all.

Well, there is and there isn't. 'Imperial Bedrooms' starts with "They made a movie about us." Clay reveals that the movie Less Than Zero and the novel were both lightly fictionalized events written up by a member of their group. The events did happen, but tensions over Blair led the spiteful author to make Clay the "handsome and dazed narrator, incapable of love or kindness." Clay might not be deserving of our sympathy, though. From the moment he arrives back in L.A. at the start of the novel, again around Christmastime, we see immediate discrepancies between the picture he gave us and how he acts. With that meta/postmodern conceit in place this book evokes the flat style of 'Zero' and updates the ennui of his characters, much how Douglas Coupland does, by showing how modern technology isolates people as much as it brings them together.

The problems with 'Bedrooms' are really with the story itself. Ellis has had some mixed success by using genre-writing techniques (the creepy 'Lunar Park' and the conspiracy-filled 'Glamorama'), but while the thriller (thrillesque?, thrillisms?) dialogue like "This is bigger than you" are somehow more ridiculous coming out of Trent or Rip or Blair than out of the mouths of the supermodels of 'Glamorama'. I just never felt any of the tension, even as Clay got more and more paranoid. Also, what I'll call the "Palm Springs Interlude" went right over my head. Was it there to show the state of Clay's descent or to reveal how he was all along? The use of a copy of 'Less Than Zero' intrigued me, but ultimately it seemed like a dead-end.

There is something to like here. The book isn't a total wash, but there doesn't seem to be enough. Other than Clay, the other characters are less dimensional then they were in 'Zero', and even he seems to be just treading water. I have no issue with books "about nothing", or unlikable characters, but they should have some overarching point to them. That nothingness should signify something. The book tries to explore Clay as a character, but he has the depth of a puddle. I don't know, when I read 'Less Than Zero' sometime in the future, I'll reread this and maybe come off with a better opinion. Most of Ellis' work has an "echo" effect on me, with each thought about it increasing my appreciation for what he's done. It's worked in reverse this time so far. In any case, it's a quick read and passes time. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
Much better then less then zero! ( )
  XoVictoryXo | May 31, 2016 |
BEE is an avatar of the '80s, and this novel is the sequel to his '80's-era Less Than Zero breakout novel. This is kind of a "Where Are They Now and What Are They Doing?" narrative. Ultimately, it turns out I don't really care what amoral black-holishly selfish Hollywood denizens are doing with their 2-D paper lives. Thus the one-star rating.

For what it's worth, this is the second BEE novel I've read. His writerly approach to narrative seems to consist of four parts imitative fallacy (which includes characters, settings, descriptions, and plots whose cardboard essences are meant to evoke cardboard realities) and one part really smart insight. But I'm starting to believe that the one-part smart insight is actually a sham.

I came to this novel because I was a teenager way back in the actual US 1980s and in some ways I'm still trying to resolve the, I guess, incomplete fact of that. At my junior high and high school, there was a pack of five or so stylish, handsome, athletic guys whom I desperately wanted to both be like (i.e., similar to) and be liked by. But I wasn't. Neither was I similar to nor liked by the young adults I observed from an adolescent spectator's distance attending night clubs and doing all kinds of Hollywood-cool things that I could only dream about, there in my Mormon Utah home, in the small Mormon Utah room that I shared with two of my six Mormon Utah siblings. Thus those distant adults and those propinquous five or six stylish cohorts have come in my psyche to represent my utter inability to penetrate, whether near or far, the US 1980s' vibrant essence, my utter inability to take into my soul something of that era's lightning brightness that shone all the brighter because of the darkness surrounding it. I'm imagining here a kind of night-carnival on the edge of a primordial forest that I can observe only from a hundred-foot remove.

But the truth is that I came of age near the end of the US 1980s, as that era's neon-hued "Greed Is Good" ethos gave way to grunge's "Whatever" counter-ethos. Which latter stance is exactly the best way to describe BEE's Imperial Bedrooms -- I give it a big fat one-star "whatever." ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
What can I say, I'm an unabashed fan of this guy. ( )
  jimifenway | Feb 2, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
Despite Chip Kidd’s cover art, which features a traffic-stopping Satanic image and Mr. Ellis’s name in the book-jacket equivalent of big red neon letters, “Imperial Bedrooms” is without shock value. It’s a work of limited imagination that all too deftly simulates the effects of having no imagination at all.
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
« L'histoire répète les vielles poses, les réponses désinvoltes, les mêmes défaites... »
Elvis Costello, « Beyond Belief »

« Pas de piège plus mortel que celui qu'on tend à soi-même »
Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye
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They had made a movie about us.
"Because you're just a writer."156
There were pictures of the boy as well, head-shots of him blond and tan and flexing-he had wanted to be an actor - and there was the fake smile, the pleading eyes, the mirage of it all. 159
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