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Less Than Zero (1985)

by Bret Easton Ellis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Clay (1)

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5,276811,541 (3.43)125
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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» See also 125 mentions

English (72)  French (4)  Swedish (2)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (81)
Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
I got this book at an Oxfam shop and the only reason I picked it up was that it was going for less than £1. I had previously read American Psycho and pretty much hated it. I thought it was a nasty book that was trying too hard to be shocking and had nothing that I could latch on to as interesting. I decided that I would give Ellis another shot and this book seems to get positive reviews so what could I lose?

In short, I want my time back. I found this book to be utterly tedious to the point of hating the book, the author and every single one of the characters. There is only so many times that you can get away with writing 'I went a party, it was rubbish, I left and went to another, it was rubbish'. I know that the vapid nature of the characters is kind of the point but I just found it to be annoying beyond belief.

I some ways I only have myself to blame. Celebrity culture and the likes of Paris Hilton & the Kardashians have passed me by. I don't understand the attraction and in some ways I guess this book is about them. My problem with that, is that I don't need to told how annoying they are, I already know.

I can see some parallels between this book and Money by Martin Amis, albeit with bankers instead of rich college kids. The big difference however is that Amis has a story to fall back to keep the reader entertained. There are details, scenes and characters which come alive, this has none of those.

I think it's obvious I didn't enjoy this book, I guess Ellis just isn't for me. ( )
  Brian. | Jun 20, 2021 |
This book was my first introduction to the mind of Bret Easton Ellis and upon finishing the book and involuntary sigh and mental shake up overtook me.

The premise of the book is quite simple, and on the surface it isn't difficult. Some will consider this book disturbing, so if you're easily offended/disgusted this book might not be for you.
However digging beneath the surface this book makes a huge statement. With a powerful narrative voice we see the horror that can lie behind the seemingly ideal.

I read this in one sitting, and have a feeling it will remain with me for quite a while. ( )
  literarylifelines | May 13, 2021 |
Meh. ( )
  curious_squid | Apr 5, 2021 |
This book is empty, alienating, and perfectly communicates the rich, vapid, etc lifestyle of greater-LA in the early 80s among the Gen-X children of other horrible people. It was important to remember not to judge the book by just how much I hated the characters and environment described, but based on the author’s skill in communicating the horror.

(As a (late) Gen X person from a far more middle class and east coast upbringing, most of this is actually fairly different than how I think of “my generation”; location and social class matters at least as much as time.) ( )
  octal | Jan 1, 2021 |
"But this road doesn't go anywhere" I told him.
"That doesn't matter."
"What does?" I ask, after a little while.
"Just that we're on it, dude," he said.

First released in 1985 when the author was 21 'Less Than Zero' describes the hedonistic lives of youngsters living the high life in Los Angeles who have too much money and too little parental control.

The book follows the life of 18 year-old Clay, home from university over the Christmas break. The story portrays the transient nature of friendships of late teenagers who spend their days and nights bed-hopping, drug-taking and partying.

The book is written in blank prose and there are no chapters instead it is broken into small paragraphs, giving the reader the impression that they are reading a diary. The first three quarters of the book is filled with drug and party culture. Despite this, it was lacking description and anticipation, the reader is taken to 'wild' parties that then end suddenly with no real climax leaving the reader wanting more. This keeps the book flowing but is also frustrating. Many of the parents seem to be involved in either movies or modelling but the seedier side of glamour is also touched upon, for example anorexia and prostitution. The author is very careful not to be judge his characters, instead he leaves it to the reader to do so.

This book has often been compared to 'Catcher in the Rye' but with the exception of a troubled teenager, they really couldn't be further apart. I can see why this was added to the 1001 list as it is quite different to almost everything else on the list but IMHO it really doesn't stand up as a piece of fiction. Throughout the book characters are introduced who seem to serve no purpose at all. It often left me wanting more. Similarly the ending was sudden with no real climax. On the plus side it is innovative and a quick read. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Dec 2, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 72 (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 editionscalculated
Antolín Rato, MarianoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"This is the game that moves as you play..."
"There's a feeling I get when I look West..."
--Led Zeppelin
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For Joe McGinniss
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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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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.

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Haunting, scary, find fuck.
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