Book Review: Less Than Zero, Bret Easton Ellis

I wondered into Barns and Noble yesterday after work for no particular reason. Although I love indie bookstores, it was nice to walk into a store I knew there wasn’t a 50-50 shot at seeing a rat. I bumped into a guy checking out the Fiction section when I saw “Less Than Zero” by Brett Easton Ellis on the shelf.

Now, I’ve seen American Psycho like everyone else. Even had a date say I look like Patrick Bateman (she was crazy, I don’t). But something about this book spoke to me, so I grabbed it after reading the back cover.

I’m glad I did, because it’s an amazing book! I read it in a matter of hours, a feature in which only one other book has managed to accomplish for me. The quick and dirty notes: it’s about this wealthy 18 year old, Cliff, who is visiting home for Christmas. He reunites with old friends, parties, has wild encounters, and struggles with all of it.

Every section has this longing for meaning that is like a inch in your back you can’t quite scratch. You keep reading because you want it to resolve, but really never does. The story is mainly centered around the city of LA, which is easy to take shots there. But in reality, it goes much deeper.

If you look at it from a thousand point view, everyone of our needs is met. Even more so than before when you add in the influx of technology.

Need to go somewhere? Uber.

Wanna find a group to hang out with? Meetup.

Need a date? Tinder.

But when you really start to look at human nature, the history of who we are and how we’ve got to this point, you begin to see the flaw in this design. A flaw I think we are only beginning to scratch the surface on, and throws out a giant question.

What else is there?

My grandpa fought in Korea. He literally scraped his friend’s brain matter of his own face because he had to keep fighting. He might have been next if he didn’t. Yet so many years later, he did this so I could drink heavily, watch Netflix in my underwear, and listen to a girl on the train ramble on about Kylie Jenner’s favorite brand of matcha.

But what did we expect?

We weren’t ready for this unexpected consequence of numbness all the time. It’s like the people that are always like “give peace a chance”. That’s awesome in theory, but there is no human nature added in that equation. We like to feel shit. Not just the good stuff, like happiness, or joy. ALL OF IT! Truthfully, this is one of the main reasons I enjoy the company of women more than guys, because they naturally understand this.

So naturally we do what humans do and make mountains out of mole hills. We self sabotage. Create some chaos. For example, at one point Cliff, the main character, watches one of his good friend’s fuck another man because he’s owes coke money to a gangster. He contemplates leaving but stays by thinking “I need to see this.”

And truthfully, the more I think about it, I feel like it’s not just the particular character Cliff who would stay to watch.. Now, I’m not saying every single person would want to witness that level of shame from their friend. But I think the overall underlined concept is much more universal than we give credit too.

Anyways, I don’t know what else to write. I know this isn’t a very good review of the book. But I feel like the mere fact I can rant for 600 words about only a few pages, should give you a solid indication of how powerful this book is.

 

In conclusion,

10 out of 10

Will probably use it in an argument against a tree hugging hippy.