Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Imperial Bedrooms: A Review.

     I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either.  I had just finished Less Than Zero about a month ago.  Imperial Bedrooms is the sequel, of sorts, to Less Than Zero, set 20-some years later.  Which, since Less Than Zero took place in the mid-80s, was about 4-6 years ago.  The exact date may have even been mentioned, but I don't remember.  That wasn't really an important detail. 
     It was clearly the aughts, because there were iPhones and The Fray.  That's enough for me.  Bret Easton Ellis has a certain style that can force you into the story.  His sentences go on and on with this sense of urgency and stream-of-consciousness that make you rip through the pages.  That works, because the characters are pretty coked out of their minds anyway, so it seems as though that's probably how their thought are going along.
     I was with the story until the end.  Then it lost me; the end felt bland to me.  The thing is, I really still don't get why he cared at all about the girl.  There was the torture-sex scene that we can expect in a BEE novel, but frankly, I expected it earlier.  For some reason, the main character was infatuated with this girl, but I saw no reason for it.  Also, the girl was stupid.  And I hate stupid girls. 
     So in the end a whole bunch of people were dead in pretty horrible ways.  How they were all connected seems to be what was holding this story together.  But really, it never mattered.  There were drugs rings and sex rings and everyone was lying to everyone.  Nothing was real, and I suppose, maybe that was the point. 
     I had higher expectations because I actually liked the Clay in Less Than Zero.  He was an asshole, sure, but there was something about him that was a little bit hopeful.  Apparently, the point in Imperial Bedrooms is that one small glimmer of hope can't persist through 20 years of bullshit.  It dies, just like everything else.
     The plot and the characters are more complicated than I'm making them out to be here.  There is a nice little device that Bret Easton Ellis uses to help explain away any sentimentalism we as an audience may have built up about Clay, or the world of Less Than Zero.  Dismissing it only makes me like Imperial Bedrooms less.  Except for the last line:  "I never liked anyone and I'm afraid of people."  That sums it up perfectly. 

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