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Imperial Bedrooms Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 15, 2010

2.9 out of 5 stars 185 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Donna Tartt is the author of the novels The Secret History and The Little Friend, and is currently at work on a third novel. Read her review of Imperial Bedrooms:

As Dante’s hell is circular, so is Bret Easton Ellis’s L.A. Everywhere in Imperial Bedrooms there is a sense of time frozen, time collapsed and time rounding back on itself in various diabolical ways. The novel marks a return to the characters of Less Than Zero, twenty-five years on, where it’s still the same old scene, camera flashes and sun-blinded gloss--only this time, there’s a persistent echo of unease, the sadness of moving in a young world while no longer young in it. Clay, casting teenagers for his eighties period film, ominously named "The Listeners," finds himself eyeing the sixteen-year-old actors dressed in the style of his youth and thinking they are friends of his, though of course they aren’t. His old friend Julian, affable as usual, is rumored to be running a teenage hooker service ("Like old times," as Clay comments acidly), while Rip, he of the trust fund that "might never run out," is in his middle age so disfigured from plastic surgery as to be practically unrecognizable, though he still has the whispery voice of the handsome boy he once was.

This is the most Chandleresque of Bret’s books, and the most deeply steeped in L.A. noir. No one is trustworthy; everyone is playing everyone else. Moreover, as in all Bret’s novels, fiction collides with reality, and fiction with fiction. Clay is being followed, for reasons he comes to suspect may have to do with the girl he’s fallen for. There are mysterious texts (from a dead boy? the previous tenant of Clay’s apartment?) a message written in red on a bathroom mirror: Disappear here. Running throughout are cocktail-party rumors of vans in the desert, ski masks, chains and mutilations, mass graves, a videotaped execution, though--as will be no surprise to any reader of Bret’s books---the rumors aren’t entirely rumors, in fact, the truth is rather worse than anything one has imagined. But what stays with one is not so much the concluding note of betrayal and horror as the mournfulness of the book, its eerie sense of stasis: clear skies, vacuum-sealed calm, the BlackBerry flashing on the nightstand in the middle of the night, everywhere the subliminal hum of menace, while the surgically-altered Rip brings his lips close to the ear and whispers in a voice so quiet as to almost be swallowed by the surrounding emptiness: Descansado. Relax.

(Photo © Timothy Greenfield-Sanders)

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Ellis explores what disillusioned youth looks like 25 years later in this brutal sequel to Less Than Zero. Clay, now a screenwriter, returns at Christmas to an L.A. that looks and operates much as it did 25 years ago. Trent is now a producer and married to Clay's ex, Blair, while Julian runs an escort service and Rip, Clay's old dealer, has had so much plastic surgery he's unrecognizable. While casting a script he's written, Clay falls for a young, untalented actress named Rain Turner, and his obsession and affair with her powers him through an alcoholic haze that swirls with images of death, mysterious text messages, and cars lurking outside his apartment. The story takes on a creepy noirish bent—with Clay as the frightened detective who doesn't really want to know anything—as it barrels toward a conclusion that reveals the horror that lies at the center of a tortured soul. Ellis fans will delight in the characters and Ellis's easy hand in manipulating their fates, and though the novel's synchronicity with Zero is sublime, this also works as a stellar stand-alone. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (June 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307266109
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307266101
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (185 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #705,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Mr. August VINE VOICE on May 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you read Less Than Zero, Bret Easton Ellis presents the sequel in a sharp, enthralling short novel. If you didn't read Less Than Zero it's OK, you will be introduced to the same characters but they are now adults. Set in Hollywood, Easton assures us that the movie industry scene has not changed. Narrated in a present tense stream of consciousness, Clay, our wealthy screenwriter, returns to L.A. during Christmas to supposedly help cast for his movie, The Listeners (The Informers?). He meets up with his old crowd, his good friend, Julian, old lover, Blair and ex-dealer, Rip. These teen-agers have not changed; they simply turned into middle-aged insecure, wandering souls. So it's again a blurry state of what are they really doing, what are they really saying?

The beginning of the story moves slowly and then it hits. As Ellis builds the plot through Clay's haze of alcohol and seduction, the story works itself into a mystery with no boundaries. Easton works his magic through a wannabe starlet, Rain Turner, a beautiful, no-talent actress. Well, she wants to be an actress and will do anything, and I mean anything, to get a callback. Clay who will do anything to get what he wants plays the game and strings her along with promises of a reading. It's not joyful. The sex, the extreme violence and the Hollywood scene are real; any talent or courtesy is strictly bogus. Ellis teaches us that Hollywood equals conspicuous consumption. The behavior of Clay and his crowd demands overindulgence in alcohol and ambition. Clay's drinking is evident in almost every scene, whether it is fantasy, reality or the devil. But the meaning is hard to capture and at some point toward the last 50 pages, I stopped trying.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was a bit surprised to hear Bret Easton Ellis had chosen to revisit the characters first introduced 25 years ago in "Less Than Zero." It is, after all, one of the more quintessential novels about disaffected teens to have come out of the eighties. So specific to time, place, and subculture--"Less than Zero" presented a mind numbing odyssey through the soulless wasteland of LA's over-privileged youth populated by indifference, unrepentant drug use, and meaningless sexual encounters. Capturing the ennui of kids with too much money and too much freedom, "Zero" was more of an experience than anything else, and I think it's fair to say that it polarized its audience with Ellis's stark depiction of moral bankruptcy.

So, to say the least, I was intrigued to see where Ellis might pick up his narrative in "Imperial Bedrooms." The introduction is an absolute delight--a playful riff on the prior novel, its true author, and the movie made from the account. It's a wicked send-up blurring the line between fact and fiction for those who read the initial novel and saw the subsequent, and much maligned, film version. But after the zippy intro, there is a shift in tone more in keeping with expectations. We're reintroduced to the principles of "Less Than Zero" led by Clay (now a successful film writer) returning to his Hollywood home. And while I didn't expect the characters to be unrecognizable, it would have been nice to see some sign of humanity in anyone two decades later. If anything, their indifference has turned to cruelty.

"Imperial Bedrooms" does a nice job of recapturing some of the flavor of "Zero"--however, its sense of story is a lot stronger. This might be welcome to some readers put off by "Zero's" meanderings or loathed by others for its far-fetched contrivance.
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Format: Hardcover
Let me say right off that Less Than Zero is my least favorite BEE novel. I find it's self-consciousness, lack of humor, and SERIOUSNESS hard to take, even after three reads over the course of 25 years. I remember jumping all over it when it was published and then becoming increasingly annoyed and angry as nothing really developed plot-wise, and at the xeroxed, empty characters. But then, why did I keep reading BEE after that? I may not have liked what I read, but something about the whole enterprise was compelling, maybe just in its gross nihilism. After all, it was well-written technically, and I couldn't help but think I was missing the point of it all. I've loved almost all of his books since then (American Psycho, Lunar Park, and Glamorama being my top three faves), so hearing that Imperial Bedrooms was a sequel to LTZ was a bit disappointing.

Amazingly, though, Ellis' sharpened writing skills makes IB a much more satisfying read from the get-go. Yes, the plot is convoluted at times, but BEE invests the (still clueless) Clay with just enough introspective self-denial that he comes off ultimately as much more three-dimensional and fascinating than he was portrayed in LTZ. He's still a train wreck, but here he's an INTERESTING train wreck. This goes for the other characters, too. In IB they seem more tragically real, as opposed to being mere types.

The set-up is the same as LTZ. Clay, now a successful screenwriter of mega-trash Hollywood hits (could BEE have thought up a worse slam for his favorite whipping boy?
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