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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.

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English (61)  French (3)  Swedish (2)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (68)
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
I'm not even sure what to say about this one.

It's written in first person, which I hate, and definite trigger warnings for drug abuse, rape, and just everything bad from the 80s.

The story follows Clay, a rich kid home from college on winter break. Clay is a mess. He is not mentally stable and is self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. His therapist is a useless dick who is more concerned with writing a screenplay than actually helping his patient. His family is wrapped up in their own issues and his friends are just as bad off as him--if not worse.

This story is truly an ode to the extremely obscene excess of the 80s, 24-hour MTV (actual videos), cocaine, Quaaludes, alcohol, parties, fashion, therapist and eating disorders are trendy, and racism and sexism are just normal everyday occurrences.

These kids are extremely privileged. They have money to throw around to their dealers and have extravagant parties. They go to clubs and fancy restaurants and think nothing of racist remarks, people od-ing, or even raping 12-year-old girls just for shits and giggles. All of these kids are fucked up beyond belief even with all their privilege, perhaps because of it. You actually feel sorry for them because they are all a mess and just trying to feel something. Especially our protagonist Clay who just goes through life on autopilot. He can't feel for his former girlfriend Blair who wants to still be with him. He feels/does nothing for his best friend Julian who is strung-out and now whoring himself to pay off his dealers. This book is a mess...and I kind of loved it. Looking forward to see the characters years later in the sequel. ( )
  Virago77 | May 10, 2019 |
Less Than Zero is an historical artifact. It's also an interesting book to read after Power of the Dog and The Cartel. From producer to consumer. Both books are songs to the futility of the War on Drugs.

Artistically, Less Than Zero is a gaping wound that existed in the 1980s. It's all about nihilistic people picking at scabs and making themselves bleed over and over. Ellis nails it. ( )
  authenticjoy | Mar 29, 2019 |
I could not connect with this book on any level. The only good thing about it was that it was so short. Horrible. ( )
  MDusseault | Feb 6, 2019 |
While I love Ellis's style, I just couldn't get into this book as easily as the other two I've read by him (American Psycho and Rules of Attraction). I would read an entire page and realize I had no idea what just happened (although it's rare that anything ever did happen). Still, though, there were parts of this book that were redeeming, and I plan to read more of Ellis's work. Just a note: if you've seen the film, it is NOTHING like the book. ( )
  Borrows-N-Wants | Sep 23, 2018 |
I read "Less Than Zero" when it was first published in the UK simply because it takes its title from one of my favourite Elvis Costello songs, and then I was encouraged by reading that the protagonist has a poster of the cover of a favourite Costello album, "Trust". Then... what a catalogue of empty, shallow characters leading pointlessly empty and shallow lives. Surely this was "The Horror" whispered by Conrad's Kurtz.

More than once I closed the cover in disgust as Ellis seemed to wallow in this nihilistic celebration of vacuous, alienated, consumerist culture, only to see his judgement of what he was portraying: Less Than Zero. That kept me going to the end, though it's a journey I'm content with having made just the once. It is, for all that, an unflinching indictment of the vapid horror that neoliberalism, in all its rampant '80s glory, leads to. ( )
  Michael.Rimmer | Jul 18, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (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... - X
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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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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