Review: Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis

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Rating: ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆
Date Read: September 29 to 30, 2014
Read Count: 1
Recommended by: no one; found on a plane
Recommended for: no one

What? Did we end up hating each other? Did we end up the way we thought we always knew would? Did I end up wearing khakis because of that fucking ad?

This quote sums up what the rest of the book is about, but don’t take my word for it because I have no idea what this book is about. The brief summary is it’s about beautiful people with some celebrity status being careless with their lives and then are surprised when nothing turns out the way they’d hoped. There’s also something about a convoluted international terrorist plot, which I won’t even begin to dissect. The rest of the book is about these beautiful people lamenting missed chances and lost opportunities. So basically a lot of whining, name dropping, and brand-name dropping. But what is it really about? I assume there’s more to it than what I just summed up, but I have no idea what that is.

The motivation behind my reading this book was strategic. It stemmed from my annoyance of having to hear about Bret Easton Ellis so much at social gatherings; it’s almost as if people wait for me to show up to talk about this guy. So I figured I’d read American Psycho to see what everyone’s talking about and also to have enough ammunition for the next time someone brings up his body of work.

What people say about Ellis (or is it Easton Ellis?) is very polarizing, which is a big part of my interest in him. His fiction, I’ve been told, either works or doesn’t work for you. From having read his essays, I’d already known his nonfiction didn’t work for me. I find his style too showy and shallow and erratic, and his subject matter also too showy and shallow and frivolous. I think he puts effort into offering his own commentary on these things, but I could never figure out what where he stands or what he’s trying to say. Everything he writes about is glamorized to the full extent, to the point of obsession, I think. A not so subtle creepy obsession.

Although I’d meant to read American Psycho first, I went with Glamorama instead due to convenience (and due to it being left on a plane). Overall, it’s an imaginative look at the world of high fashion, minus the actual fashion. So basically just beautiful people, sex, drugs, some rock n roll, and oneupmanship. Oh, and international terrorism. Make of that what you will.

The writing starts out all right and the subject matter sort of interesting but in an artificial way. The constant name dropping doesn’t help to anchor the story. In fact, I think it works against narration and the dynamic of the story to pull you out of the story. More often than not, the “witty” prose seems forced instead of wry or smart. In addition to that, there’s a cast of shallow characters being shallow and whiny. Put them all together and you get a lot of hysterics and a lot of first-world non-problems written as though they’re actual problems. So this book manages to hit all of my annoyance buttons in less than 100 pages. But maybe that’s the point?

As the story progresses, to my surprise, everything and everyone stay pretty much the same and continue to be so until the end of the book, with the exception of the terrorist plot device. The characters, their obsessions, their thought processes, their motivations, the vanity, the setting, the name dropping, etc. stayed the same. Maybe this is some sort of clever commentary on a certain way of life? I really couldn’t say. So what is the point of it all, you might ask. I have no idea. You will have to find someone who thinks they understand Bret Easton Ellis and have them explain it to you.

One last thing lest I forget:

The stars are real.
The future is that mountain.

…what??

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8 thoughts on “Review: Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis

  1. Steph January 1, 2015 / 9:44 pm

    This looks like something I might have read-if you hadn’t saved me the trouble. Thank you. I think I will skip it.

    Like

    • 1stavenue January 1, 2015 / 10:50 pm

      Oh, no. I didn’t mean for that. You should still check it out because it interested you at one point. The writing is quite…it’s quite something, that’s for sure lol. It’s not the right fit for me, but I’m glad to have read it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Steph January 2, 2015 / 12:07 am

        I’m quite happy to trust your reaction. I think my fancy in this book is and was fleeting at best and there are so many books out there to be read. It is not something to feel bad about:)

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        • 1stavenue January 2, 2015 / 1:43 pm

          Whew! Glad I didn’t ruin a book you’d had your eye on. If you’re still interested in Bret Easton Ellis (as I am sort of still), there’s always his “magnum opus” American Psycho. I still plan on giving it a try. Some day.

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  2. thebookgator January 27, 2015 / 6:28 pm

    whaaat? I’m struck speechless by that closing quote as well.

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    • 1stavenue January 27, 2015 / 7:35 pm

      If I remember correctly, the vainglorious main character was wallowing in a drunken/drugged stupor and thought he had an epiphany. Bret Easton Ellis must have gone through something similar and that was the inspiration for this book lol.

      Liked by 1 person

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