September 1st, 2010

Imperial Bedrooms

When Rome Girl came home Monday she brought with her my signed first edition of Imperial Bedrooms - the Brett Easton Ellis sequel to Less Than Zero.

I just finished it this morning. It's interesting. When I first read Less Than Zero I was 19 and the narrator, Clay, was 19. Now, I'm 41 and so is he. In a way this entire book is about catching up with old friends you knew in high school or college but haven't seen since and have always wondered what happened with their lives.

Then, when you meet them you realize that you should have been able to guess exactly what trajectory their lives were going to take - their past set them on a path that was inevitable.

Your ex girlfriend Blair has become exactly like her mom. Your friend Rip who was also your drug dealer has moved up the criminal ladder. Your best friend Julian who was on a downward spiral from drugs and booze has done the AA thing but is still on a downward spiral.

When you were young, older people exploited you sexually and emotionally. Now you are the grown ups and you are exploiting the younger people sexually and emotionally.

Clay returns as the remarkably unreliable narrator. He has two great lines:

1. "(Julian) warned me about how the world has to be a place where no one is interested in your questions and that if you're alone nothing bad can happen to you."

2. (After a conversation with Blair.) "I now want to explain these things to her but I know I never will, the most important being: I never liked anyone and I'm afraid of people."

The plot arch is very similar to Less Than Zero. Clay returns home from the East Coast to spend four weeks in L.A. During that time he will catch up with Blair, Rip, Trent and Julian.

As in Less Than Zero the owly two characters who understand themselves or the way the world really works are Rip (the predator) and Julian (the prey.)

This is the first Ellis novel since Less Than Zero to not mention any real celebrities and also the first to not mention Patrick Bateman in any way, shape or form. Yet, there is one character (not Rip) who ends up being something far scarier than Patrick could ever be.

Whether you like the book or not will depend on if you liked Less Than Zero. Imperial Bedrooms is, at its core, a darker more "dead" version of Less Than Zero. It's "Lesser Than Zero."

It's message seems to be that people don't change. They simply get better at exploiting or suffering from their flaws as they get older.

Because this is an Ellis book it is full of plays on words, interesting phrasing and sometimes absurd violence (are there really escort services out there that will rent you an 18 year old boy and an 18 year old girl if you tell them that what you want to do with them is feed them laxatives, smother shit over them and beat them up for an entire weekend?)

The entire book is full of stuff like that but it's still a portrait of dead emotions, numbness and lives that really weren't worth living.

In that way, it's brilliant and haunting. But if you come to Imperial Bedrooms looking for redemption you won't find it here.

On The Piss

One of my female friends just told me that once a week she pees in a cup and then rubs the pee with a cotton ball onto her face to help cleanse her skin and prevent acne.

She then leaves it on all day. She says it doesn't smell and nobody at work would ever guess.

I've never heard of this so I have to ask you ladies:

Poll #1613608 The Dream Stream

Have You Ever Rubbed Pee On Your Face To Get Better Skin?

I'm a boy I don't care about my skin.
I'm a boy and I do it before I jerk off.
I'm a girl and I do it before I jill off.