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Glamorama Hardcover – December 29, 1998
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Glamorama is a satirical mass-murder opus more ambitious than Bret Easton Ellis's 1990 American Psycho. It starts as a spritz-of-consciousness romp about kid-club entrepreneur Victor Ward, "the It boy of the moment," an actor-model up for Flatliners II. Ellis has perfect pitch for glam-speak, and he gives nightlife the fizz, pace, and shimmer it lacks in drab reality. Anyone could cite the right celeb names and tunes, but like a rock-polishing machine, his prose gives literary sheen to fame-chasing air-kissers. He's coldly funny: when Victor's girl tries to argue him out of a breakup, she angrily snorts six bumps of coke, stops, mutters, "Wrong vial," snorts four corrective doses from whatever she has in her other fist, then objects to a rival at the party wearing the same dress she's wearing.
You had to be there; Ellis makes you feel you are. But such satire is a very smart bomb targeting a very large barn. Models' status anxiety doesn't merit Ellis's Tom Wolfe-esque expertise. Glamorama gets better when Victor gets drafted into a mysterious group of model-terrorists who bomb 747s and the Ritz in Paris, wearing Kevlar-lined Armani suits. Oh, they still behave like shallow snobs, pronouncing "cool" as if it had 12 o's. But now when somebody swills Cristal, it's apt to be poisoned, to horrific effect, which Ellis expertly, affectlessly describes. His enfant-terrible debut, Less Than Zero, aped Joan Didion. Now Ellis has grown into a lesser Don DeLillo--and that's high praise. --Tim Appelo
From Publishers Weekly
The evil twin of fellow brat-packer Jay McInerney's Model Behavior, Ellis's (The Informers) bad trip through glitterary New York has everything his fans (and critics) have come to expect: graphic sex, designer drugs, rock 'n' roll allusions, splatterpunk violence and characters as deep as 8"x10" glossies. Protagonist Victor Ward, a "model-slash-loser," is opening his own trendy Manhattan club while cheating on his supermodel girlfriend and back-stabbing his partner. After some adventures in clubland, the plot takes a turn for the paranoid. Victor is recruited by a mysterious figure, F. Fred Palakon, to track down a former girlfriend gone missing in London. There he becomes unwillingly drawn into a terrorist group?run, like so much else in the novel, by a supermodel?that bombs fashionable hangouts, hotels and jetliners. Throughout, Ellis clutters his hallmark proper-noun realism with excessive name-dropping and strung-out plotting. The satirist in Ellis seems to want to indict celebrity-obsessed, materialistic and superficial contemporary culture. With this novel he, perhaps unwittingly but certainly ironically, provides Exhibit A. 100,000 first printing.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Many people will disagree with the statement I just made, but this novel takes this fictional world where I believe he was going with American Psycho. Of all his books up to that point in time, Glamorama is the one with the biggest payoff. I remember sitting there at a certain point late in the book, and I felt as though a bomb just dropped... It's not a moment of surprise, suspense or anything like that, but Ellis floored me with a stunning climax of his character's development - a scene that multiplies the power of this novel and everything that has led up to this point.
I don't know what you'll get out of this novel, but I can say that it spoke to me in a way that very few works of fiction ever have. In fact, once I read this again in a renewed context, I have a strong feeling this will be a 5 star book for me.
Side Note: I would also highly recommend the collection of essays pulled together by Naomi Mandel on American Psycho, Glamorama, and Lunar Park. I found them to be absolutely critical to being able to understand some of the deeper meanings of these novels - particularly this one. There are so many layers that Ellis was uncovering in this novel that I have a feeling I will be studying this one again and again over the years.
*****___(Perfection) The highest degree of enjoyment / fulfillment I've personally experienced with reading
****½___(Excellent) Only lower than five stars due to falling short on any number of "subjective" categories
****____(Influential) A very satisfying experience and has me looking for more from this writer/genre
***½____(Good) Keeps me engaged but unlikely to look for more by this writer unless highly recommended
***_____(Average) Could take it or leave it and will not be looking for more by the same writer
**______(Poor) Constantly asking myself, "How much worse can this get?" every few minutes
*_______(Terrible) Belongs in the dumpster... I mean, the recycling bin
I had to read this for a college course on Modern American Fiction.
It was an excellent read, and I would like to sit and read through it agian, without having to take notes and examine the text, and read it as it was meant to be, as a novel for enjoyment, and as a comtemporary commentary on our society.
Ellis took six years to write this and you can tell that from the tone and direction the book takes through its progress that Ellis himself changed during this period. I commend him for trying something (somewhat) new with this book becuase by the time I finished American Psycho, I was getting a little tired of his plotless formula. Victor Ward as a character is a little base to front a self discovery novel but it Ellis' wit and prose carries the book well enough.
Bottom Line: fans of Ellis should of course pick this up but again I think that Ellis books should be read in order. Those who have read all of his books will be inexplicably drawn to this one as I myself was. Wether Ellis sticks with his typical ambience piece or goes for another linear plot book is fine by me because I am just curious to see what he will do next.
People not familiar with Ellis' works should start with Less Than Zero.