Reviews of Imperial Bedrooms

01 July 2010

True to form, Bret Easton Ellis' novel Imperial Bedrooms has caused a stir amongst critics. Read some of the reviews that have been coming in here.

 

'Cunningly weaving his personal anxieties into this fictional story reminds us that, no matter how nihilistic and derogatory Ellis's work may seem, at it's core is a writer who is deeply concerned with the direction our culture is taking. Paranoia dominates the lives of Clay and his cohorts - both real and imagined, serving as narcissistic trait onto which the characters believe they are the centre of the universe. Something our self improvement obsessions, networking sites and constant bombardment of advertising lead us all to believe. As with his previous works Imperial Bedrooms reads as an expression of a society falling apart. Comfort breeds violence. Youth, money and status reign supreme. The protagonists have grown up in the intervening years but only in a physical sense. Inside they are still the same self-obsessed teenagers whose morality only stretches as far as making sure that they are looking out for number one. Don't come looking for redemption, you won't find it.' HUH magazine

'The poster boy for '80's excess returns with this sequel to Less Than Zero. Twenty-five years on, LA's spoilt rich kids are all grown up but still embroiled in the debauchery of Hollywood. Here, Ellis displays a newly emotional and sinister tone. A creepy, Brutal, absorbing read.' Top Ten Picks of the Week Grazia

'In 1983, Bret Easton Ellis wrote Less Than Zero, pretty much the ultimate teen novel. In this sequel the same characters are just as wasted and rich. A frantic and funny glimpse of the darker side of Hollywood, it makes you ask, "Is this what it's like on The Hills?' **** Heat

'In terms of American literary inheritance, Easton Ellis adds the playful self-advertisments of Philip Roth to the ambiguously complicit social reportage of F Scott Fitzgerald. Imperial Bedrooms ranks with his best exercises in the latter register, teeming with sharp details of a narcissistic generation' Guardian

'Densely, even hectivally plotted. Carrying an epigraph from Raymond Chandler, it is a murder mystery - a woozy, paranoid, hallucinatory version of LA noir.' Sunday Times

'A forensic stylist, Ellis documents atrocity unsparingly...and while he can write lyrically about Christmas lights and swimming -pools and views of Los Angeles enveloped in mist, he is always best when describing damage of some kind . . . Imperial Bedrooms itself is almost defiantly appalling and sickening, but it is also brilliantly written and coolly self-aware . . . [it] has a thriller's pace and structure, drawing momentum from our desire to find out who is behind the hideous mutilation of a body displayed a few pages in. At the same time, like it or not, the novel dabbles in philosophical waters. The thriller-style hints and foreshadowing also form part of a metaphysical investigation. Here, as in Less Than Zero, Ellis is plumbing the depths of human nature, exposing it at its worst, His writing is existentialist to the extent that it confronts the minimal limits of identity.' Observer

'If you want to feel a whole lot better about your life, revisit Bret Easton Ellis's seminal Eighties' hedonists from Less Than Zero in the apocalyptic Imperial Bedrooms' InStyle UK Culture Club

'Ellis deserves his cult status and there is no sense of him going soft on us here. The wry dialogue, the brittle, heartless sex, and the sense of civilisation tumbling as the LA brat pack (now middle-aged) grab and fornicate are no less powerful...you won't want to miss this one.' Readers Digest

'Twenty-five years after his debut novel, Less Than Zero, the enfant terrible of US lit catches up with the book's characters (still rich, still fucked up) as they navigate middle age.' TNT magazine

'The novel is a kind of modern noir and, as in Chandler, the form's accepted master, atmosphere is king. Paranoia prevails. Clay is plagued with mysterious, threatening messages and dreams about dead boys bearing cryptic tattoos. LA at night is powerfully evoked. Not that the author is over-fond of poetics - at this stage in his career, he has very much found his rhythm and his prose can be broken into two distinct categories: there are the short, functional exchanges that barely puncture the surface of his characters' emotions; and the rambling, run-on sentences that list brands and sensations with equal disinterest and usually end with someone fucking someone else. . . . The narrative unfolds coolly but when everything is wrapped up, much remains unexplained. Much, that is, except motives - here, every character is out for themselves. Only the quiet, rather elegant coda suggests any hope; not that Clay necessarily deserves it.' Independent on Sunday

'Once again. Ellis uses the blank tone and the long, steamrolling sentences to conjure the mood of moral vacancy. It may come as a surprise but you will learn here that people in the Hollywood film industry are shallow and vicious...the is sinister business going on: off stage anonymous Hispanics are being murdered, Clay is being followed by a blue Jeep and getting scary texts from a blocked number and the book ends with a...scene of spectacularly horrible sexual sadism.' Evening Standard

'The description of the empty, pleasure-seeking Los Angeles lifestyle is spiced up by a thriller plot.' Daily Express

'Bret Easton Ellis's Imperial Bedrooms is his tautest, most compulsively readable work sinceAmerican Psycho. A sequel to Less Than Zero, it imagines what became of that book's group of over-privileged, dead-eyed kids as 40-year-olds.' Hari Kunzru - The Observer Summer Reading Choices

'Imperial Bedrooms is a brilliant, albeit disturbing, novel that mercislessly captures the inner evil that lurks behind the outwardly glamorous lives of its characters.' Press Association

'You won't read a better book this summer. Nasty but nice.' Art Review

 

THE INDEPENDENT HAVE COMPILED A PLAYLIST BY WHICH TO READ IMPERIAL BEDROOMS

 

'Ellis, a self-confessed moralist, has suggested that far from offering a celebration of evil and of nihilism, he is presenting an examination of it. The nascent narcissist of Less Than Zero has lost all ability to empathise, switched off his humanity, and is now left in a "dead end". In that, it is a deeply pessimistic presentation of human nature as assailable, and in Clay's case, incapable of transformation; but also, perhaps, an unflinching study of evil.'Independent

'As in Lunar Park, the deliberate blurring of fiction and reality seems both an attempt to increase the book's verisimilitude, and a sort of jokey way of making a book, which like almost all of his fiction, deals with hard-core material, seem even more sulphurous. . . Although American Psycho will always be Ellis's most graphic novel, Imperial Bedrooms is in many ways even more disturbing. American Psycho, Ellis always claimed, had a moral and satirical intent; Imperial Bedrooms is nothing but nihilism (not a criticism). . . . Imperial Bedrooms is a wonderfully merciless novel: where once was glamour we now find only horror.'Sunday Telegraph

'Ellis writes effortlessly well. Sex, drugs and facelifts galore.' Tatler

'Dark and tense, this tale of degeneration, murder and bleak emotional lives is sad and shocking. Easton Ellis's perspective is unchanged - hedonism does not equal happiness.'Marie Claire

'Easton Ellis has pulled off another amazing feat, by opening another elucidating window onto a very modern and very hollow world.' Daily Mirror

'Ellis has returned to the sparse, terse prose of his debit with startling effect. A timely expose of how shocking it is when nothing's shocking anymore.' Big Issue

'The most pressing question to which Ellis tries to find an answer in this disturbing novel is why and when human beings begin to lose their soul, and how their humanity starts to disappear, bit by bit.' New Statesman

'In the neon-lit corners of Easton Ellis Land, life is still defined by boredom and lubricated by cash. And even 25 years on, his characters will have a whole lot of growing up to do. . . It is shocking, powerful and incisive' Spectator

'Deeply noirish and at times shockingly violent . . . The American Psycho authors does not disappoint here.' City AM

'Imperial Bedrooms is about more than mere creative megalomania, Its bleached-out surfaces, botched plastic surgery victims and morally anorexic characters reflect an uncompromising dead-end Gothic nihilism.' Metro

'[Imperial Bedrooms] is a deeply pessimistic presentation of human nature as assailable, and in Clay's case, incapable of transformation; but also, perhaps, an unflinching study of evil.'
Belfast Telegraph

'A brilliant post-modern opening.' The List

'More serious, more subtle and more sophisticated and with a more serious moral purpose.'Tribune

'Gruesome but always gripping critiques of modern living.' TES

'Imperial Bedrooms is a wonderfully merciless novel' Sunday Telegraph

'What's most remarkable about this sequel is that even though a quarter of a century has passed since the first instalment, everything about is eerily timely and puke-out-loud pertinent. . . Imperial Bedrooms is vintage Bret Easton Ellis. It's nice, and sort of awfully at the same time. To have him back.' Dazed and Confused

 

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