Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis


When you’re eighteen, rich, and have a month to kill in Beverly Hills, you have nothing to do but take drugs, have meaningless sex, and talk to your friends about nothing specific. At least that’s the situation Clay finds himself in during his Christmas break from college. He returns to Los Angeles from New Hampshire, where he’s attending college, with no plans for the vacation except to get together with his friends, attend parties, and go clubbing. He’s up for anything, because he has the worst case of apathy a writer could give a protagonist and still have the reader involved.

This is experimental fiction. It’s written in present tense, first person, and it’s a collection of short narrations that are related to each other only because the same characters appear in them. Life doesn’t have a plot, and neither does this novel. There is a hint of a plot in the question of whether or not Clay and Blair are still a couple. There is another hint in the question of what’s happening to Clay’s friend Julian and why does he need money. Though both questions were answered in the novel, it was not a traditional plot that answered them.

A strength of this novel is that it breaks away from the norm; it gives the reader a new way of looking at storytelling. Whether you like this novel or hate it, you will agree that it’s not the same-old-same-old. A weakness of the novel is that Clay’s apathy gets old real fast. If he doesn’t care, why should we? Though it’s not a long novel, it took me a long time to read it, because I could only read ten or fifteen pages at a time. Then I had to get away from it for a spell.

I would recommend this novel to anyone who likes experimental fiction. I would also recommend it to anyone who, like myself, likes contemporary America fiction. Without a doubt, this is one of the most important books published during my lifetime. But I wouldn’t call this a “good read.” I don’t have to like the protagonist to enjoy a novel, I don’t even need to think that he’s a good person, but I do need to be able to relate to him. I was unable relate to Clay or his sect.

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