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Lunar Park (Vintage Contemporaries)by Bret Easton Ellis
"The descriptions of wealthy children are top-shelf Ellis, the ubiquitous celebrity lists of his previous novels replaced by Zoloft-stocked medicine cabinets. But then, for some reason, a ghost story is grafted onto the proceedings....Ellis wants this novel to be about Fathers and Sons. But a 21st-century Turgenev he's not. What we really want is more Teenage Pussy." Gary Shteyngart, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)
Synopses & Reviews
Imagine becoming a bestselling novelist, and almost immediately famous and wealthy, while still in college, and before long seeing your insufferable father reduced to a bag of ashes in a safety-deposit box, while after American Psycho your celebrity drowns in a sea of vilification, booze, and drugs.
Then imagine having a second chance ten years later, as the Bret Easton Ellis of this remarkable novel is given, with a wife, children, and suburban sobriety — only to watch this new life shatter beyond recognition in a matter of days. At a fateful Halloween party he glimpses a disturbing (fictional) character driving a car identical to his late father's, his stepdaughter's doll violently "malfunctions," and their house undergoes bizarre transformations both within and without. Connecting these aberrations to graver events — a series of grotesque murders that no longer seem random and the epidemic disappearance of boys his son's age — Ellis struggles to defend his family against this escalating menace even as his wife, their therapists, and the police insist that his apprehensions are rooted instead in substance abuse and egomania.
Lunar Park confounds one expectation after another, passing through comedy and mounting horror, both psychological and supernatural, toward an astonishing resolution — about love and loss, fathers and sons — in what is surely the most powerfully original and deeply moving novel of an extraordinary career.
"Having ridden to fame as the laureate of Reagan-era excesses, Ellis serves up a self-eviscerating apologia for all the awful things (wanton drug use, reckless promiscuity, serial murder) he worked so hard to glamorize. Narrated faux memoir style by a character named Bret Easton Ellis, author of bestsellers, L.A. native, friend to Jay McInerney, the book seeks to make obvious its autobiographical elements without actually remaining true to the facts. In the novel, Ellis marries B-list actress Jayne Dennis (with whom he'd fathered a child years earlier), moves to the New York City suburbs and begins working on his latest neo-porn shocker, Teenage Pussy, when things start to go awry. His house becomes possessed by strange, threatening spirits intent on attacking his family and transforming their home into the pink stucco green shag disaster of Ellis's childhood; a well-read stalker begins acting out, victim by victim, the plot of American Psycho; and the town becomes enthralled by a string of child abductions (oddly, only the boys are disappearing) that may or may not be the work of Ellis's son. This is a peculiar novel, gothic in tone and supernatural in conceit, whose energy is built from its almost tabloidlike connection to real life. As a spirit haunting Ellis's house tells him, 'I want you to reflect on your life. I want you to be aware of all the terrible things you have done. I want you to face the disaster that is Bret Easton Ellis.' Ultimately, though, the book reads less like a roman clef than as a bizarre type of celebrity penance. The closest contemporary comparison is, perhaps, the work of Philip Roth, who went for such thinly veiled self-criticism earlier in his career, but Roth's writing succeeded on its own merits, whereas Lunar Park begs a knowledge of Ellis's celebrity and the casual misanthropy his books espoused. Yet for those familiar with Ellis's reputation, the book is mesmerizing, easily his best since Less than Zero. Maybe for the first time, Ellis acknowledges that fiction has a truth all its own and consequences all too real. It is his demons who destroy his home, break up his family and scuttle his best chance at happiness and sobriety. As a novel by anyone else, Lunar Park would be hokum, but in context, it is a fascinating look at a once controversial celebrity as a middle-aged man. Agent, Amanda Urban." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[H]is fifth and most enjoyable novel....
"Ellis delivers for his fans and for the new guard of Palahniuk readers who will appreciate his straightforward prose and twisting plot lines. He even seems to have matured — or perhaps he is simply acknowledging that his best subject has always been himself." Library Journal
"The sense of creeping dread is excellent, and the beasts confronted by the Ellis character are genuinely frightening, but they don't lend any meaningful urgency to his psychological journey. It's as if he used an ax to kill off his ax murderer." Booklist
"Ellis has managed to weave a seamless whole out of a collection of contradictions....He fuses the black humor, the self-mockery and the raw intensity of terror into a compelling emotional roller-coaster ride that seems to reflect a longing for the bonds of family and a desire to take on adult responsibility." Portland Oregonian
"Lunar Park is easily the most readable of Ellis' books: less name-dropping, more plot. Also good is a sustained awareness on the part of Ellis-the-character that he is failing pathetically at his own redemption." Los Angeles Times
"The problem with this novel is not that it is a fast, lurching ride to nowhere. Of course it is; it's a Bret Easton Ellis novel. The problem is that it does not have the honesty to admit that it wants to be more." New York Times
"Ellis...evokes with nightmarish clarity a certain kind of upper-middle-class life, where all the children are Ritalin-dependent and even the family golden retriever is on Prozac. These scenes...suggest the chilly horror of J.G. Ballard's best work." Washington Post
"The deftness with which Ellis handles an entertaining and suspenseful plot...is impressive. Lunar Park is not only enjoyable and consuming but insightful and mirrors...the psyche of a nation forced to question itself and the world it creates." San Francisco Chronicle
"[B]reezily written and sometimes wickedly funny, but Ellis seems so eager to shock and entertain that he can't choose a single, elegant ghoul...to make his case. Like his early work, Lunar Park is a victim of sophomoric overkill. (Grade: B)" Entertainment Weekly
"By combining equal parts John Cheever and Stephen King, and infusing the novel with his own, distinct brand of social satire — in this case upscale, uptight white angst and modern child rearing (Meds! Meds! Meds!) — Ellis has created a potent and intoxicating cocktail, one that affords us visions without the ugly hangover." Vanity Fair
Bret Ellis, the narrator of Lunar Park, is a writer whose first novel Less Than Zero catapulted him to international stardom while he was still in college. In the years that followed he found himself adrift in a world of wealth, drugs, and fame, as well as dealing with the unexpected death of his abusive father. After a decade of decadence a chance for salvation arrives; the chance to reconnect with an actress he was once involved with, and their son. But almost immediately his new life is threatened by a freak sequence of events and a bizarre series of murders that all seem to connect to Elliss past. His attempts to save his new world from his own demons makes Lunar Park Elliss most suspenseful novel.
In this chilling tale reality, memoir, and fantasy combine to create not only a fascinating version of this most controversial writer but also a deeply moving novel about love and loss, parents and children, and ultimately forgiveness.
From the author of "Less Than Zero" comes a work that confounds one expectation after another, passing through comedy and mounting psychological and supernatural horror toward an astonishing resolution. It's a novel about love and loss, fathers and sons, in what is surely the most original and moving novel of an extraordinary career.
About the Author
Bret Easton Ellis is the author of Glamorama; The Informers, a collection of stories; American Psycho; The Rules of Attraction; and Less Than Zero, all of which are available in Vintage paperback. He lives in New York City.
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