The Bret Easton Ellis of this novel is a damning portrait of a successful author spiralling into a drug and alcohol fuelled personal failure. He has an inability to sustain either his sobriety or any form of a relationship on a personal level. On the surface, this book is simply the account of this character’s inability to build a relationship with his new wife (old girlfriend) and her 2 children (the son they had together and her daughter). Superimposed over this are macabre and dark events and the reader is left unsure about whether they happened or were just a hallucination, a manifestation of Bret Easton Ellis (of the novel)’s deepest fears through drug and alcohol fuelled visions.
But there is more to it than this. On another level, it seems that we are being shown a window into what makes up Bret Easton Ellis (the complete man). We see him as a boy, as his father and all of these are part of the whole person. It’s as if his son Robby in the novel is a younger Bret and failure of this relationship is akin to the failure of Bret Easton Ellis to build a relationship with his own father. The final scene in the diner a flashback to the earlier description of his encounter with his own father.
It’s a difficult book to fathom but an easy book to read. It is certainly, in part, an attempt at a genre novel. It has, in common with ‘American Psycho’, the air of unreality about parts of it and the reader is left never quite sure what actually happened and what happened inside the main character’s head, just as it was never clarified as to what Patrick Bateman did and what he imagined.
I would definitely recommend this book but I think it’s one that needs reading, digesting, dwelling on and then re-reading in the future with fresh eyes. After only one pass at it, I reached the end feeling like I was slightly missing the point and just a little bit confused …. but in a good way, a kind of ‘I need to put my mind to work on this one’ way not a ‘what on earth is going on’ way. I think the reader is never supposed to be left question-free about this book. You need to think about it a bit