Other Free Encyclopedias » Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern Fiction » Books & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Co-Fi)

Ellis, Bret Easton

bateman clay spend jay

(US, 1964– )

Ellis's debut novel, Less than Zero (1985) is written from the perspective of Clay, an 18-year-old student returning from college to spend the Christmas vacation at home in Los Angeles. Like the characters in Ellis's campus novel, The Rules of Attraction (1987), Clay is both naïve and jaded: in spite of endless supplies of money, cocaine, and consumer goods, he feels emotionally empty and cut off from life. This mood is deepened in American Psycho (1991). Patrick Bateman is a Wall Street stockbroker, effortlessly earning more money than he can ever spend. Like Clay, Bateman is immune to shock, suffering, and pleasure, but unlike him, challenges his own deadened responses with stomach-churning violence. Bateman's story is a bizarre catalogue of designer clothes, casual affairs, and misogynistic mutilations, all recounted in the same deadpan tone. Although highly controversial and widely condemned as pornographic, American Psycho, like Jay McInerney's best books, attempts to probe the dark heart of America in the 1980s.

David Leavitt, Jay McInerney  BH

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