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The Informers Paperback – August 1, 1995

3.2 out of 5 stars 102 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This tedious successor to American Psycho , a patchwork of interrelated vignettes about a set of filthy rich L.A. families in the early 1980s, weds Ellis's over-the-top if one-dimensional satirical style to the sensational hedonism characteristic of Danielle Steel and the spiritual malaise of Douglas Coupland. Mobilizing his trademark first-person narrative voice, Ellis charts an amoral hyper-elitist social landscape from the interchangeable perspectives of debased Hollywood players, pseudo-celebrities and industry brats. There is Cheryl, an aging newscaster who shacks up with a narcissistic surfer and stops showing up for work; Bryan Metro, a vacuous American pop star who tours Japan leaving a wake of battered groupies and pharmaceutical bottles; Jamie, a vampire who lures teenagers home from trendy clubs and murders them in sadistic scenes reminiscent of American Psycho . Ellis's often racist characters crisscross an L.A. littered with the trendy iconography of the early 1980s (Wayfarer sunglasses, Duran Duran, designer drugs), their affectless, inarticulate sentences registering a jaded disdain for other people's lives. Ellis does not break new ground here but returns, perhaps nostalgically, to the cultural context of his celebrated first novel, Less Than Zero . Ultimately, this book is so inconsequential that it should neither vex Ellis's critics nor gratify his fans. 50,000 first printing; QPB alternate.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Although billed as a novel, this work reads like a collection of 13 loosely related short stories. The characters in Chapter 1 reappear in the last chapter, and Jamie, whose death occurs in Chapter 2, may be the vampire named Jamie who later appears. None of this much matters, however, since the characters have no personality anyway. Every chapter is told by a different narrator, further preventing the reader from connecting to the characters. Set in Eighties L.A. like Ellis's debut, Less Than Zero, the book makes endless, almost obsessive references to obscure bands, upscale restaurants, and clothing of the time. For Ellis, this seems to have been a time when "people [were] becoming less human...everyone [was] operating on a very primitive level," but, unfortunately, the effect is of an era safely past. The Informers has fewer gruesome scenes than American Psycho, and its affectlessness renders them less powerful. Still, this is a disturbing book that will be requested by patrons familiar with Ellis's work.
Nora Rawlinson, formerly with "Library Journal"
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (August 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780679743248
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679743248
  • ASIN: 0679743243
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #465,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Mr. Ellis' strength is in his realistic dialogue and characters, which is well on display here in this collection of character sketches.
I say character sketches, and not short stories, because that's really what they are. A series of interconnected portraits of the different, intermingling layers of society in LA.
And it is pretty impressive at that. Each of the characters in the book are going through very similar feelings, have very similar problems (spiraling depression, enstrangement from their parents, etc.). Luckily, Mr. Ellis is able to differentiate their characters and situations.
As happens with books of this type, the ending seems to rush together more quickly, and feel more connected than the beginning. And frankly, as much respect as I have for Mr. Ellis' writing, it was exhausting to read story after story. The book is an interesting portrait of a city constantly on the edge of destruction, but there's only so much nihilistic fiction a guy can read before you curl up into a ball in the corner.
As always, Ellis is a writer worth reading. But be prepared: it is a short book, but a long haul.
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Format: Paperback
A review by Dr. Joseph Suglia

THE INFORMERS (1994), seems, at first glance, to be nothing more than a collection of short stories and drafts for Ellis' more ambitious novelistic projects ("The Secrets of the Summer," for instance, reads like an early version of AMERICAN PSYCHO). It is far more than that, however. Each story connects with all of the others; the book has an inner continuity that is staggeringly intricate. There are complicated interchanges between the "characters"; each one of them is absolutely interchangeable with everyone else.

THE INFORMERS is set in Los Angeles in the 1980s. No one in the book has an individuated personality. All of the characters take Valium and drink Tab. All of them say the same things and have the same desires. Indeed, all of Ellis' "characterologies" are the same. This is not a flaw in his novelistic practice. It is, rather, a sign of his writerly strength. In "The Up-Escalator," a middle-aged woman cannot distinguish her son, Graham, from any of the other tall, blond boys that populate the novel. In "In the Islands," William cannot distinguish his son, Tim, from Graham. One stoned pool boy is identical to another stoned pool boy.

"Perfection," it would seem, might be bought and sold in mass quantities. According to the logic of the work, one's identity is founded upon the products one buys. Because products are available in mass quantities, identity is also available in mass quantities. If commodities are equivalent to each other (through the medium of money), there is no reason that identities should not be posited as equivalent as well.
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Format: Paperback
I have read "Less Than Zero", "The Rules of Attraction" and my favourite, "American Psycho". I have about thirty pages left to read in "The Informers" and I must say that the book is a mixture of all Ellis's other books. For those who say the book lacks a story or even a plot, I would say that they are sadly mistaken. The point of "The Informers" is to take you through the lives of some really twisted people and underscore their naive search for meaning, whether it be in the form of fashion, sex, or drugs and whatever else is the pleasure of the moment. The frustration of living a life devoid of meaning and the inability to discern where one can find substance is found in the Ellis's sexually rapacious vampire character. Here is guy that takes out all of his anger on women, i.e. through his violent sexual escapades and minorities, i.e. his casual, yet caustic references to "niggers" and "gooks". "The Informers" and all of Ellis's other works are windows that give you a snapshot of the nihilisitic children of the 80s. Though I believe that Ellis uses hyperbole in all of the sex, violence and senseless dialogue to get his point across, the goal of his works is to show just how empty and pointless, the life of nihilism really is.
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Format: Paperback
It is somewhat hard to pinpoint just what is so fascinating about Ellis' writing—fascinating to many, that is, but perhaps boring or confusing to others because 'nothing happens.' I've read four of his other works at this point (Less Than Zero, Imperial Bedrooms, American Psycho, and Glamorama, in that order), and in every case, his characters are absolutely despicable people, ranging from the spoiled, over-priviliged brat to the psychotic serial-torturer. They are frequently ultra-rich, apathetic to everything, stoic, extremely entitled, disgustingly selfish, and the list goes on.

Perhaps one reason Ellis' work is so enticing is that we as humans are captivated by watching others behave more badly than ourselves; taking their wretchedness to the extreme, so to speak, and acting more perversely than we would ever dare or imagine. To some degree, we find depravity fun to read about. Few (if any) of Ellis' characters are sympathetic, and yet most of us probably feel some level of horrified sympathy for them anyway for the way they are destroying themselves and don't even recognize it. That said, his characters don't need to be sympathetic in order to be interesting, or to seem realistic.

The Informers is a collection of loosely-connected stories set in 1980's California, primarily Los Angeles. Each chapter is told from a different narrator's voice and it is sometimes unclear whether they are male or female until several pages into the story. While certain characters appear in multiple stories, there does not seem to be a great deal of importance in keeping track of who is who most of the time.
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