CONTEMPORARY SATlRE Glamorama
Bret Easton Ellis (Picador £16.99) Bret Easton Ellis is perhaps more closely associated with the 19805 than any other writer working today. His debut Less Than Zero is a satire on the sex ’n’ drugs 'n’ nihilism of young, privileged white America, while American Psycho, though published in 1990 and often pathetically misread as the author's misogynistic fantasy, is actually a Dunciad for the idolatry of the greed decade. But, with his new novel Glamorama, Ellis seems to be announcing his candidacy as the official chronicler of the 905 pop culture.
Glamorama is a novel about celebrity, a meditation on life lived in the camera lens. It is the story of Victor Ward, an up-and-coming model and actor whose priorities are clothes, cocaine, blowjobs and getting on the covers of fashionable magazines, but who somehow becomes mixed up in international terrorism. Ward inhabits a neon world of exclusive guest lists, so the book positively glitters with lists of famous names.
Open a page at random and read about Adam Horowitz, lone Skye, U2 and John Woo. Flip the page and there's Chris O'Donnell, Liam 'n' Patsy, Damon Albarn, Sean Penn and Vivienne Westwood. Like the lists of product names in American Psycho, the name-dropping is so ubiquitous that it transcends semantics, becoming in the book what it is in life - part of the white noise of contemporary culture, barely perceived and devoid of meaning beyond itself.
’Glamorama is a criticism not only on celebrity, but on my celebrity as well,’ says Ellis. ‘Being famous is ridiculous. It is not tied to hard work or fine work, it‘s just the luck of the draw, the mood of the moment, what a culture demands at a certain hour of the day, standing on the right corner at the right minute. All these scary, intangible things that make a celebrity were at the forefront of my mind when l was writing it.’
For Ellis, celebrity or fabulous wealth can aggravate
SERIAL THRILLER The Green Mile
Bret Easton Ellis: fashion shooting
the sense of disconnectedness from others which he posits as the contemporary human condition. He himself was first thrust into the spotlight in his early twenties and was forced to go into hiding when the American Psycho storm blew up. Little wonder he feels burned by the flashbulbs.
‘lf you become a celebrity of some sort, you become removed from real tangible experience,’ says Ellis, who is currently working on his memoirs. 'The world that you are viewing looks very different to that viewed by someone who is not well-known and that is alienating. You are definitely in a very intense minority.’
SE Glamorama is published on Sat 2 Jan, the hardback edition of American Psycho is out now, priced [ IO. Bret Easton Ellis is coming to Scotland in February
Plotvwse, it's another prison story -- see The Shawshank Redemption ~ but this time With a supernatural i\.VlSl.
Stephen King (Orion £10.99) it 1*: w‘r at
For most novelists, haying your masterpiece published in instalments is an idea that went out With the Victorians. Then again, most novelists aren't Stephen King. After all, if he’s not actually the bestselling author in the world, he's jUSi ab0ut the only one of the blockbuster brigade to be taken even remotely seriously by the critics
The six little booklets that constitute The Green Mile have been put together here in one volume, but does it work Without the gimmick7 The surprismg answer is yes, pretty much. Writing in short bursts seems to have curtailed King's Achilles heel his tendency to ramble on and forget the story at hand
Narrated by good-hearted Jail keeper Paul Edgecombe, it tells the tale of John Coffey, sentenced to death for the murder and rape of two little girls. Is he the monster he appears to be? Or is he more a force for good than eVi, unjustly imprisoned? A clue — look at his llililcilS.
The story burlcls to an impressive climax and although the plot gets slightly confused in places, it’s still his best in ages scary, touching and exciting in the way his books used to be before they started clocking in at ar0und the lOOO-page mark When it comes to making the enthralled reader turn the pages, he's still in a league of his own Even in six monthly parts (Brendan Wallac er
Putting debut authors under the microscope. This issue: Matt Thorne Who he? lvlat‘. Thorne kicked off his publishing career with The Honeymoon Disease, a short story from a Vintage new writing collection to monstrous'y great acclaim Julie Burchil! clesc rihed his writing as ’as sad as Sunday and as sexy as a scar.’ His ability to write ‘i'om a female perspective has been jumped upon as evrdenc‘e of his potential QCTTIUS. And he is 23 years old Makes you sick, doesn't it7
His debut It's called burnt and fo'lows the fortunes of Sarah Patton and her life by the Westop seaside She keeps two lovers, a lOl) she has l-ttle fa'th n and a closet rammed with memor es which threaten to spring out at any moment and swamp her spirit. Basically BaSIcally, it's an iiic"s've and deeply poignant tale of love, betrayal, sex, family, the past, the future and the tacky end of the entertainmc~>nt l'ldUSiTy
First line test 'lt takes five steps to get into the light With. every step I expect to be knocked flat. Not being attacked seems like not paying my phoneb=il s00ner or later someones bound to catch up With me'
Cast Sarah Patton who has Cut off her family ties and fled to the sea to fulfil her non-speCific ambitions. Her lovers, Paul (her married boss), Henry ta gentle old man who can’t or won’t get it up any longer), Neil (her colleague and the, closest thing she gets in the book to a s0ulmate).
What's next? His second novel iS due Out In April and is entitled E/ght Minutes Idle. Our hero Dan works at a call centre With a Ginger Tom who sleeps in the suspended ceil'iig Dan's life and work become one entity, his boss makes a pass at him and every manner of hell breaks Out.
:15 Tourist is published in paperback by Sceptre at [6.99.
1. p t + ~ unmissable
,, i. 9 Very good
:» «5 it Worth a shot
i. a Below average
s. You've been warned
7/ Dec l998 lla". 1999 THE llST123