Thursday, December 22, 2005

Lunar Park By: Bret Easton Ellis

A few days ago I finally completed my reading of Bret Easton Ellis' latest novel Lunar Park. Having read a couple of his earlier novels, Less Than Zero and American Psycho, I was already a bit of a fan of work and I went into my reading of this one with certain expectations:

1.) This book would portray the lifestyles of the upper-class in a rather negative light.

2.) There would be a lot of drug use on the part of the characters.

3.) Sex scenes would be very graphic and almost hard to read.

And you know what?

I think that with Lunar Park, Bret Easton Ellis took those expectations that I had of his work and turned them on their heads. What he has done has been to take some of the conventions that he subscribes to and craft a rather supernatural thriller of a book.

What I love most is how he has taken himself, Bret Easton Ellis, the novelist, and placed himself as the protagonist of the story, a man who is trying to build a life with what is, by and large, a surrogate family. Married to a movie star, an actual live-in father to two children, he is working on establishing a domestic lifestyle after years of reckless indulgence and controversy. It is that controversy, though, that seems to manifest itself in apparitions that begin to creep up around Bret's life as the novel progresses. I won't go into great detail as to what manifests itself so as to not spoil the surprises should you decide to give this book a read yourself, but above all else it should be noted that Ellis takes his undeniable writing style and applies it in a way that I haven't seen him apply it before. It's refreshing to read. He does new things with his old tricks. For example, mixing the elements of his real life with a fictitious world blurs that barrier between what I know is real and isn't real until I can suspend my disbelief easily, alarmingly so. He seems to reveal a lot about himself insofar as the specifics of his life and just throws in the supernatural bits and you can't help but question sometimes, Is any of this real? If so, how much?

If there is one downside to the book it's that once the climax hits and Ellis begins the denouement begins I found myself still left with a lot of questions. A few of them never really get resolved. I have to admit, though, that because this is a book that is about the supernatural it's not necessary for Ellis to explain precisely what happens or why it happens. As a reader I'm experience the story through his eyes and, in all likelihood, he knows about as much about the why's and how's of the supernatural happenings around him as I do. It makes for a book that is genuinely creepy to read at some points.

I'm not sure how I would rank Lunar Park against the other Bret Easton Ellis books I've read and I'm not sure if it would even be fair of me to do so. It's still a book that I found to be very enjoyable to read and I would highly recommend to anybody who's in the mood for a good book.

Also, the last couple of pages are some of Ellis' best writing. There is one monster of a paragraph that is written in such a way that it could easily be taken out of its context and read as, say, a prose, poem. Actually, as I was reading that monster I stopped about three sentences in and decided to go back and start reading it over again, this time out loud as I would a poem. It was almost worth the price of admission alone, for me anyway.

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