Bret Easton Ellis’s debut, Less Than Zero, is one of the signal novels of the last thirty years, and he now follows those infamous teenagers into an even more desperate middle age.
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. Blair, his former girlfriend, is married to Trent, an influential manager who’s still a bisexual philanderer, and their Beverly Hills parties attract various levels of fame, fortune and power. Then there’s Clay’s childhood friend Julian, a recovering addict, and their old dealer, Rip, face-lifted beyond recognition and seemingly even more sinister than in his notorious past.
But Clay’s own demons emerge once he meets a gorgeous young actress determined to win a role in his movie. And when his life careens completely out of control, he has no choice but to plumb the darkest recesses of his character and come to terms with his proclivity for betrayal.
A genuine literary event.
If Less Than Zero was a book that sped by and made no real impression on a reader, its sequel can be absorbed just as quickly. But it shouldn't be. Imperial Bedrooms is a book with pleasurable sentences and tensions; with pulpy twists and shivering scenarios. I suspect it will be an easy novel for detractors of the author to misread. But Ellis is not an easy ironist, and here he is not gratuitous. He asks us a question: What can you do with an artful book about spiritual zombies? Read it and weep.