21 Down, 31 Left (52 Weeks, 52 Books)

>Regardless of how horrible the events described here might seem, there’s one thing you must remember as you hold this book in your hands: all of it really happened, every word is true.

Lunar Park is a gothic meta-masterpiece starring the author as his own protagonist, once vilified as the poster child for 80s consumerist-inspired misanthropy, now a relapsed middle-aged dad attempting to be respectably suburban and suitably fatherly. Ellis (the fictional one) struggles to stay on the wagon whilst trying to start an affair with a graduate student, the whole time trying his damndest to break through to his son, Robby, who barely manages to ignore his father through his meds-induced haze.

The self-referentially comic tone of the book gives way soon enough as our hero starts getting mysterious emails from the bank storing his father’s ashes, his step-daughter’s toy bird starts coming alive, his son gets connected to an epidemic of disappearing teenage boys and a rash of murders is connected to a Patrick Bateman imposter recreating crimes from American Psycho.

Much of the novel references Ellis’s (the writer) earlier work as well as his controversial reputation. While it certainly would have helped to have read Ellis’s earlier work, especially American Psycho, his latest work didn’t alienate as much as I anticipated – having read Rules of Attraction probably helped – but I do recommend reading Psycho at least to fully appreciate the little in-jokes littered throughout the novel.

While in part an homage to Stephen King and his brand of Americana horror, Ellis also infuses the book with a desperate sense of the lives we imagine for ourselves, a self-loathing desire for redemption and a guts and gore look at immutable relationships – a writer’s with his creations and fathers with their sons. This is not just a scary book with a clever gimmick thrown in.

Eschewing a single genre and conventional structure, Ellis has written a piece of metafiction flowing with undercurrents and thick veins of meaning if you care to dig deeper than the awkward narrative shifts and near-parodic horror elements. While much of the plot is discernibly fiction, Ellis’s descriptions of familial dysfunction and substance-fueled paranoia are obviously from experience.

It was Lunar Park‘s closing elegy that hit me like a punch in the gut. A stingingly moving passage of nostalgia and longing that actually had my heart in my throat, not really what I expected from the bad boy of contemporary American literature. After the comedy and horror narrative of the rest of the novel, the lyrical tour de force of the final chapter was both profoundly and unbelievably rewarding.

In scope, ambition and sheer strength of writing, Lunar Park is a masterwork, and Bret Easton Ellis has a new fan.

Lunar Park
(ISBN No: 0375727272) Check NLB Catalogue for item availability.

My next book will be Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. (yes, I’m finally caving in.)

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3 Responses to “21 Down, 31 Left (52 Weeks, 52 Books)”


  1. 1 airhole June 1, 2006 at 9:30

    you cavin’ in???

    in the words of everyone’s favourite villain,

    “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

  2. 2 avalon June 1, 2006 at 14:25

    (1) Is it right to use ‘an’ before ‘homage’ because its pronounced with a vowel sound? Curious!

    (2) This book sounds good, I will read it when I next can, but without Psycho can? Is it hard to read, that is, with too much cheem vocabulary?

    (3) Are you sure you are gonna cave in? Oh no! Don’t be a bestseller junkie!

  3. 3 Billy June 1, 2006 at 22:47

    airhole:
    um, yeah.

    avalon:
    (1)ah, i think correct lah.
    (2)read better, i think. not cheem one lah, i think i overused the thesaurus in my review, thats why u think cheem.
    (3)too late, already started.


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