Just End Already! A review of Bret Easton Ellis' Imperial Bedrooms
I used to think that the more you enjoy a novel, the faster you’re likely to get through it. I finished Brest Easton Ellis’ Imperial Bedrooms in less than three days. That’s how fast I wanted to be done with it. but before I get started, synopsis and review after the jump
Ellis novel visits LA once more and reacquaints us with Clay, Julian and Blair, the characters from his 80s debut Less Than Zero. The once young adults who were rarely sober are in their mid40s, but not much wiser than I first came across them. Funnily enough, Ellis mentions the film version of Less Than Zero, and how it differs from the character’s actual lives. Clay is in LA to work on a movie which he wrote the screenplay for. From the moment he arrives he feels as if someone is following him. He becomes infatuated with a young girl who attends a casting call. He comes to realise that Rain, the girl he starts to fall in love with, is also involved with his former friend Julian. He tries to reconnect with his Blair who pretty much ignores him as much as he can. what follows is Clay spiraling out of control.
Now I enjoy Ellis’ novels. Glamorama and The Rules of Attraction are by far my favorites. But this story was just so Crunchy. The characters are all extremely unlikable, perhaps even more so than when they first appeared in Less than Zero. Maybe that’s the point. Perhaps we as a reader are supposed to hate these characters who, even though they are clearly awful people, are still enjoying moderate success in their lives in one form or another. Clay is much more narcissistic this time around which gives way to many other personality traits that make him all the more irritating.
What is interesting is that sexuality, to some extent takes a backseat in Imperial Bedrooms. Clay is no longer the bisexual person from Less Than Zero. He only has eyes for Rain now and does everything he can to satisfy her, both emotionally and sexually, at what seems the cost of his own emotions and sanity.
While the novel reads easily enough, the constant paranoia quickly becomes tedious and at some point i became sure that Clay was really just losing his mind and that If I didn’t read quick enough the same would happen to me. These characters should have just stayed twentysomethings, because their forty year old counterparts are completely useless to others and themselves.
Ellis fans may still enjoy reading about truly intriguing albeit exasperating characters. However, don’t make this your first Bret Easton Ellis’ read, because it is no where near his best.