Bret Easton Ellis

Go down

Bret Easton Ellis

Post  eddie on Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:01 am

Winter read: Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

It may be set in permanently sunny Los Angeles, but things don't get much icier than inside its characters' hearts

Dan Holloway, Thursday 29 December 2011 09.00 GMT

A traffic jam during early evening congestion on a Los Angeles highway. Photograph: Dan Chung for the Guardian

For those of us who grew up on Joy Division and The Smiths, what makes winter special is not the warming light of a fire but the hours of orangey-blue darkness; not the crispness of an ice-crackle underfoot but the tubercular damp that leeches the last unwelcome dregs of summer from your veins. So as I wheeze deliciously home through soiled slush, bosomed by bickering strangers, noroviral particulates and the smell of sicked-up garlic chicken and CK1, what better thing to rootle for among the remnants of last year's lunches than the perfect winter vacation novel?

Less Than Zero
by Bret Easton Ellis

With its occasional pool parties and more than occasional sunglasses, you would be forgiven for forgetting that Bret Easton Ellis' debut Less Than Zero was set during the winter break when Clay returns to Los Angeles following his first term at college to find that Absolutely. Nothing. Has. Changed. In fact, between the iconic opening line, "People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles" and the equally iconic closing line, "After I left", precious little actually happens at all.

The only real development in the book is Clay's gradually evolving disgust as he moves like a wraith through an endless round of casual sex, drugs, and violence that changes nothing about the world in which, and the people to whom, they occur. Heat comes from friction, from things rubbing up against one another and giving off energy, but the Los Angeles of Less Than Zero is an eternal winter of entropy and OCD. There are no conversations, just internal monologues thrown out randomly that cross without touching. And every surface is so shiny that it slips through the world without leaving a trace.

Less Than Zero is as slippery as the characters that haunt it. It draws us in only and precisely to the extent that we share its inability to care about anyone within its pages. We both identify with Clay's disgust and find ourselves disgusted by him in turn. But maybe his slow realisation is one of self-loathing? No, there is nothing noble, no sense of discovery, about Clay's repulsion. It is purely the product of an existential laziness; an accumulation of holographic detritus that results from not being bothered to dial out. As the book closes, images play over and over in his head of the thoughtless, causeless, affectless brutality he has left behind. Only they aren't even real images, they're the words of a song playing on the radio, an echo of a world that itself is a shabby echo of reality. And while Clay slips away into who knows what (only, of course, thanks to the recent Imperial Bedrooms, we do know what) with those echoes playing like the last tracking glitches slowly tuning themselves out of his head, we know that both he and Los Angeles remain fundamentally the same.

Only for us it's slightly different. Our "images so violent and malicious that they seemed to be [our] only point of reference" don't fade. They are a cold condensation running down the inside of our skull. The frictionless chill of Clay's world does touch us, planting a small seed of winter inside us that refuses to leave. Because Less Than Zero is not about Los Angeles, or the 80s, or drugs, or hipsters. It is fundamentally true. It's every time we turn on the news. It's every time we pass splintered glass on the road. It's every time we walk down the street with our headphones on. It's every time we close our eyes and go to sleep leaving the world behind. Maybe that's Less Than Zero's redeeming feature. As the shard of ice, the frozen mirror that embeds itself inside us and pricks our conscience with our blank reflection at each of these moments, maybe it is a bud of hope, of change, of spring. But I can't help thinking, I hope it isn't.
The Gap Minder

Posts : 7840
Join date : 2011-04-11
Age : 62
Location : Desert Island

Back to top Go down

Re: Bret Easton Ellis

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:48 am

Bobby Robinson Passes Away At Age 93

BOBBY ROBINSON, whose tiny record shop on Harlem's 125th St. spawned No. 1 national hits and made him an uptown patriarch for six decades, died yesterday.

He was 93 and had been ill for several years - though he regularly went to work at his shop until it was forced to close in January 2008.

Impeccably dressed, well-spoken and ambitious to make his mark in the entertainment business, Robinson opened Bobby's Happy House in 1946.

His shop was the first black-owned business on 125th St., and within five years he used it to launch a series of record labels.

Sometimes working with his brother Danny, who also had an office on 125th St., Robinson recorded hundreds of artists from Gladys Knight and the Pips to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

Knight's first hit, "Every Beat of My Heart," was released on Robinson's Fury label.

Robinson, a South Carolina native, had a No. 1 national hit in 1959 with Wilbert Harrison's "Kansas City" - and said years later that a hit of that magnitude crippled his business because he had to press so many copies he couldn't promote any other artists.

But his Red Robin, Whirlin' Disc, Fire, Fury and Enjoy labels became legendary in the rhythm and blues world, and his releases by artists like the Channels, Teenchords and Scarlets helped define the sound of the New York streets through the 1950s.

Robinson ultimately recorded a wide range of artists that included the great bluesman Elmore James, whom Robinson inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In the late 1970s, Robinson became one of the first label owners to record rap music, cutting artists like Flash, Doug E. Fresh and Spoonie Gee.

Robinson eventually had to move the shop around the corner in the late 1990s, and he closed for good on Jan. 21, 2008, when his new landlord decided to raze the building for a development.

"I've seen 125th St. at its best and worst," Robinson said in late 2007. "And I'll tell you, there's no more exciting place in the world."



Back to top Go down

Back to top

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum