Book Review: The Rules Of Attraction – Bret Easton Ellis
August 5, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Set in an expensive liberal arts college somewhere on the east coast in the fall of 1985, The Rules Of Attraction follows a group of students lost in a life of drinking, partying, and sleeping with people they don’t actually like. The college, dubbed Camden, is modeled on Bennington college in Vermont which Ellis attended himself in the early 1980′s. And although denied by Ellis, I bet lots of fragments in the book have indeed happened in some form during his time there.
In short, Paul falls in love with Sean, Sean falls in love with Lauren, but Lauren is in love with Victor, who is in Europe. All three are narrators, with minor appearances from others. Paul sleeps with Sean, but Sean doesn’t. Sean makes Lauren come all the time, but Lauren thinks 40 minutes of licking her pussy is not the same as having a good time. Lauren recalls dates with Victor, but Victor doesn’t know who Lauren is.
They all go from party to party, drink cheap alcohol, smoke constantly, get high. The college campus setting makes there lives uncomplicated, and not having any goal whatsoever makes for an awesome read. There are no responsibilities, no consequences, no one to care about. In essence no one likes anyone else. Conversations are minimal, mostly gossip about who slept with who, people who overdosed, got an STD. They all float from party to party, from bed to bed. They only smile not because of happiness but because the are about to have sex with someone. In the end, the book just stops, Sean in mid sentence.
Two-thirds into the novel, I sensed a certain change. Patrick, Sean Bateman’s brother, enters the scene. There’s this hate between them, that returns in American Psycho, starring Patrick as the main character. Sean now has rich parents, a family suit at the Carlyle, an MG (although he tells Lauren its a friend’s), a butler, recollections of expensive partying. Why Sean hides the fact that he is actually rich remains a mystery. It might be Ellis’ disdain for growing up with money, or maybe Ellis realized halfway through the novel that rich people are more interesting to write about. Either way, this part of the story marks the birth of Patrick Bateman, a portrait of humanity in its most fucked up way.
Bret Easton Ellis’ Characters
This book introduces almost all characters that returns in various books written by Ellis.
Sean & Patrick Bateman: Patrick returns as a mass-murderer/yuppie in American Psycho, portraying all that was wrong with the eighties, materialism, Manhattan, and humanity in general. He makes a short appearance in Glamorama. Sean has lunch with Patrick in American Psycho, and their hatred for each other remains as strong as ever.
Victor, simply a party boy hitchhiking through Europe for most of the book, returns as the main character in Glamorama, possibly the best and most complicated novel by Ellis.
Lauren returns in Glamorama as the mistress of Damien, Victor’s boss. Victor doesn’t remember her (he doesn’t remember anything from his Camden days) but goes to great lengths to sleep with her. She tries but can’t resist him, triggered by flashbacks from her Camden days.
Clay (“the guy from LA”) was already introduced in Less Than Zero. In this book he simply wanders around, narrating a short chapter, being mostly passive. He appears as Clayton in Lunar Park, driving the same car as Clay in Less Than Zero, wearing the same clothes, and freaking Bret (as himself this time) out. He returns again in Imperial Bedrooms as a bitter 40-year-old, but by then his passivity has turned into a pure evil hidden under a tanned skin and bleached hair.
Bertrand (“the frog”, Seans french roommate) is much hated by Sean, and will return in Glamorama being a general pain in the ass for Victor.
Mitchell makes a short appearance in Lunar Park as his suburban neighbor, with a hot wife and a generally boring personality.
Victor & Glitterati
A chapter in the book is narrated by Victor, traveling through Europe, his time mostly spent partying and fucking random strangers. It was put straight into the movie:
Supposedly these scenes are outtakes of a movie called Glitterati portraying Victor involved in terrorist bombings in Florence and Rome, somewhat similar to the plot of Glamorama. According to Ellis, Glitterati will never see “the light of day“. And indeed, there is hardly any information to be found about this movie. Apparently Pardue (in character as Victor) traveled Europe for 15 days while screwing random chicks he picked up, I’m guessing without getting written approval from all these girls. Glitterati is, according to director Roger Avery, only shown at “sporadic surprise screenings”, but I’m hoping the internet will have this movie floating around on shady torrent sites at some point.
Tagged: American Psycho, bennington college, Bret Easton Ellis, Camden, College, girls, Glamorama, Glitterati, Kip Pardue, materialism, partying, Patrick Bateman, Roger Avery, Sean Bateman, The Rules of Attraction