_ Blood sucker
Bret Easton Ellis is back with a tale of dispassionate sex, visceral lust and endemic ennui. What’s new? asks Eddie Gibb.
Your legs are really smooth. ' ‘I had them waxed. ' ‘Awesome. '
This is the blank verse of the blank generation, chronicled for what could be the last time by the genre's inventor, Bret Easton Ellis. His next book, possibly a companion piece to Robert Altman’s forthcoming satire Prét a’ Porter, is about supermodels, and unlike previous Ellis novels it will a) have a narrative. as in a story with a beginning,
middle and end; and b) be set ﬁrmly in the 90s. it has 2
been a tough gestation period for Ellis who. ﬁnding himself in such unfamiliar literary territory, has been suffering the mother of all writer’s blocks.
‘I think I’ve always written about vampires since Less Than Zero but when for once I make it literal, everyone freaks out.’
Which is why, for now, we have The Informers, an ultra-slimline book based on stories he knocked out just to be writing something while waiting for the creative juices to ﬂow again. The Informers is based on a collection of what were, effectively, doodles from his notepad. Ellis says he was surprised Picador
i been a modest success in the States. but by Ellis's . '/ i own admission, it was still panned. ‘There was a lot
decided to publish, but with the novel still some way off, it could be considered as something of a stopgap.
Certainly it’ll keep their controversial author in the news. On a scale of zero to hundred, where a hundred
1 is total abuse. his last book American Psycho — a torrent ofgraphic sex and violence — scored around i the 95 mark. Using that yardstick, The Informers has
‘ l of ill will left over from American Psycho,’ he says
i is the criticism fair? Probably. The Informers has
i the air of a writer practising his backhand - it’s
5 essayed in a typically smooth groove but there’s the i feeling we’ve seen it all before. Or maybe not: Ellis l often seems to be criticised for the book he hasn‘t written, not the one he has. if so, that‘s because it‘s
simply more fun engaging with the myth than the words. And the myth, like the real man, is engaging: ﬁrst novel out before college graduation; substantial body of work by 30; unofﬁcial chronicler of
‘ generation. and pencilled in as author of the Great
American Novel sometime in the future. For these reasons The Informers is a disappointment for anyone that was intrigued to know what Ellis
would make of all this slacker/Gen X/Cobain stuff
that’s dominated the-youth-oﬁtoday commentary in the past couple of years. ‘l'm not interested in that
-; whole thing,’ he says. ‘1 really never wanted to be a
spokesperson for a generation and for many l’m deﬁnitely not.‘
instead we get another mid-80s morality tale. placed in time by Wang Chung on the radio — it's a sunglasses (Wayfarers. naturally). cocaine, deep tans
I and vampires book. Vampires? Yup, as in: . . . then I
scream and jump on her and rip her throat out and then I fuck her and then I play with her blood and
‘ after that basically everything 's okay. The outing of
the vampire theme shouldn‘t be such a surprise says
; Ellis: ‘l think l‘ve always written about vampires f since Less Than Zero but when for once i make it ‘ literal, everyone freaks out.’
This is a novel inasmuch as it has central themes:
bored rich kids with no sense of responsibilitv" the B Easton Ellis: unwillln okesman , ‘ . ' ‘ m 9 so ; characters refusal to talk about anything but the
most banal emotions. But it's not a novel — and Ellis
isn‘t sure himself— because the points of view are so
fragmented. Ultimately The Informers is more
interesting than satisfying — an elegant signpost on
: the way, rather than an actual destination. : The lnformers is published on 2/ October by Picador
at £9. 99.
_ Legge in love
Arranging an interview with Gordon legge can assume Kafkaesque undertones, given the absence of a telephone at his abode and the anti- social shifts of his lob as a nursing assistant at the lloyal Edinburgh psychiatric hospital. However, after iolnt perseverance, author and interviewer finally cross paths and taking Bob lloskins’s advice, plump for discussing his latest novel, I love He (Who Do You love?), via legge’s local phone box.
The Grangemouth-born author’s first novel The Shoe was warmly received on publication in 1989 and followed up by a punchy and witty collection of aptly-titled short stories called in Between Talking About The Football. in fact, this last title appears to have
generation of east coast
stories as if they did.’
spurred him into developing the incestuous pool of characters that inhabit I love Me. llere, the John Peel
twentysomethings has shifted the football and giro chat onto the backburner and assumed working lives where babies, pub quizzes and the ubiquitous waccy-baccy take
For Legge, the inspiration for his fictional characters owes something to his own multifarious catalogue of friends. As he explains: ‘I have drug friends, football friends and friends that buy loads of records. None of these people know each other in real life and wouldn’t like each other anyway. But i can write them down in
His predilection for interlocking stories with a cast of eight or more characters, each flitting in and out of each other’s lives, is down to the influence of San Franciscan author Armistead Maupln and his Tales of the City series. ‘I kind of used his style for this book,’ admits legge. ‘lt’s a soap-
opera style, though I’m still very much in control of my characters.’
As a proponent of language buzzing with flurries of east coast colloquialisrns, legge is as qualified as anyone to comment on the prevalence of the ‘vernacular’ - as the London coterle define it - in contemporary Scottish literature. ’It all emanates from the speech,’ he explains. ‘A crowd of people sitting around in the pub or at home are telling each other stories which are probably pretty crap. So the only way to improve them is to use, as Billy Connolly said, ‘sweary words’ to keep the flow of the language golng.’ Unfortunately, Legge’s conversational flow is about to be terminated by the queue of BT users outside his phone box, so those who wish to continue , communications will have to purchase the book. (Ann Donald)
i love Me (Who llo You love?) is published by Polygon on 3 November.
The List 2i October—3 November l994 81