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Bret Easton Ellis is the author of four earlier novels and a collection of stories, which have been translated into 27 languages. He divides his time between Los Angeles and New York.
Having ridden to fame as the laureate of Reagan-era excesses, Ellis serves up a self-eviscerating apologia for all the awful things (wanton drug use, reckless promiscuity, serial murder) he worked so hard to glamorize. Narrated faux memoir style by a character named Bret Easton Ellis, author of bestsellers, L.A. native, friend to Jay McInerney, the book seeks to make obvious its autobiographical elements without actually remaining true to the facts. In the novel, Ellis marries B-list actress Jayne Dennis (with whom he'd fathered a child years earlier), moves to the New York City suburbs and begins working on his latest neo-porn shocker, Teenage Pussy, when things start to go awry. His house becomes possessed by strange, threatening spirits intent on attacking his family and transforming their home into the pink stucco green shag disaster of Ellis's childhood; a well-read stalker begins acting out, victim by victim, the plot of American Psycho; and the town becomes enthralled by a string of child abductions (oddly, only the boys are disappearing) that may or may not be the work of Ellis's son. This is a peculiar novel, gothic in tone and supernatural in conceit, whose energy is built from its almost tabloidlike connection to real life. As a spirit haunting Ellis's house tells him, "I want you to reflect on your life. I want you to be aware of all the terrible things you have done. I want you to face the disaster that is Bret Easton Ellis." Ultimately, though, the book reads less like a roman a clef than as a bizarre type of celebrity penance. The closest contemporary comparison is, perhaps, the work of Philip Roth, who went for such thinly veiled self-criticism earlier in his career, but Roth's writing succeeded on its own merits, whereas Lunar Park begs a knowledge of Ellis's celebrity and the casual misanthropy his books espoused. Yet for those familiar with Ellis's reputation, the book is mesmerizing, easily his best since Less than Zero. Maybe for the first time, Ellis acknowledges that fiction has a truth all its own and consequences all too real. It is his demons who destroy his home, break up his family and scuttle his best chance at happiness and sobriety. As a novel by anyone else, Lunar Park would be hokum, but in context, it is a fascinating look at a once controversial celebrity as a middle-aged man. Agent, Amanda Urban. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Presented as a novel rather than a faux memoir, Lunar Park, read by James Van Der Beek, attempts to be satirical but is so self-reverential of the lead character/author's flaws, it often sounds like the worst cheap gossip columns or blog. Ellis may be disproving Socrates's proclamation that "an unexamined life is not worth living," be this fiction or not. The prolog sets the mood, dragging on indicatively as the rambling drug-riddled tale swings between fits of semiapologetic smarminess and potential horror. As his own lead character and narrator, Ellis calls on all his past real and fictional demons and creates a privileged world out of familiar pop culture celebrities in a horror mystery that may or may not be purely delusional. There is an audience for this work among the author's fans, but it may be a rather select group. Not recommended.-Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"Addictive. . . . Sublime. . . . Exquisite. . . . Stirringly executed. . . . A phantasmagoria of love and loss, a fusion of hallucination and wisdom."-"The New York Times" "The deftness with which Ellis handles an entertaining and suspenseful plot, as well as a sophisticated play between truth and fiction, real selves and imagined selves, is impressive. "Lunar Park "is not only enjoyable and consuming, but insightful."-"San Francisco Chronicle" "John Cheever writes "The Shining," . . . A strange triumph. . . . Here is a book that progresses from darkness and banality to light and epiphany with surprising strength and sureness."-Stephen King, "Entertainment Weekly" "A mesmerizing read. . . . Genuinely frightening. . . . "Lunar Park" is a story about the momentous pain parents inflict on their children. . . . The worst violence is internal and emotional, and in its beautiful closing pages, this rich, deceptively complex novel argues that's the most damaging violence of all."-"The Miami Herald"