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The Informers


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This tedious successor to American Psycho , a patchwork of interrelated vignettes about a set of filthy rich L.A. families in the early 1980s, weds Ellis's over-the-top if one-dimensional satirical style to the sensational hedonism characteristic of Danielle Steel and the spiritual malaise of Douglas Coupland. Mobilizing his trademark first-person narrative voice, Ellis charts an amoral hyper-elitist social landscape from the interchangeable perspectives of debased Hollywood players, pseudo-celebrities and industry brats. There is Cheryl, an aging newscaster who shacks up with a narcissistic surfer and stops showing up for work; Bryan Metro, a vacuous American pop star who tours Japan leaving a wake of battered groupies and pharmaceutical bottles; Jamie, a vampire who lures teenagers home from trendy clubs and murders them in sadistic scenes reminiscent of American Psycho . Ellis's often racist characters crisscross an L.A. littered with the trendy iconography of the early 1980s (Wayfarer sunglasses, Duran Duran, designer drugs), their affectless, inarticulate sentences registering a jaded disdain for other people's lives. Ellis does not break new ground here but returns, perhaps nostalgically, to the cultural context of his celebrated first novel, Less Than Zero . Ultimately, this book is so inconsequential that it should neither vex Ellis's critics nor gratify his fans. 50,000 first printing; QPB alternate. (Aug.)

Although billed as a novel, this work reads like a collection of 13 loosely related short stories. The characters in Chapter 1 reappear in the last chapter, and Jamie, whose death occurs in Chapter 2, may be the vampire named Jamie who later appears. None of this much matters, however, since the characters have no personality anyway. Every chapter is told by a different narrator, further preventing the reader from connecting to the characters. Set in Eighties L.A. like Ellis's debut, Less Than Zero, the book makes endless, almost obsessive references to obscure bands, upscale restaurants, and clothing of the time. For Ellis, this seems to have been a time when "people [were] becoming less human...everyone [was] operating on a very primitive level," but, unfortunately, the effect is of an era safely past. The Informers has fewer gruesome scenes than American Psycho, and its affectlessness renders them less powerful. Still, this is a disturbing book that will be requested by patrons familiar with Ellis's work.-Nora Rawlinson, formerly with ``Library Journal''

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