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Less Than Zero (Picador Books) Paperback – Feb 1986


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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; paperback / softback edition (Feb. 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330294008
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330294003
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 1.3 x 12.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 520,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'It is all too relevant to teenagers today'
--Alastair Hutchinson in The Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Bret Easton Ellis is the author of five novels and a collection of stories, which have been translated into twenty-seven languages. He divides his time between Los Angeles and New York. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By rp on 8 Sept. 2005
Format: Paperback
Where did Bret Easton-Ellis come from? I don't mean geographically. I mean how did someone in their early twenties write such a complete book? Less Than Zero is so accomplished it's incredible. It tells the story of the teenagers of the rich and famous, and their decent into decadence simply in search of something to do. These characters simply have nothing to risk. They are dead to the world and completely souless.
I think a lot of other authors wouldn't be able to resist the temptation to satirise the characters. Easton-Ellis looks beyond the shallowness of his characters and the result is a tragedy worthy of Evelyn Waugh, F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway. Unfortunately, Less Than Zero is not as entertaining as Vile Bodies or The Great Gatsby. It's on a par with The Sun Also Rises though.
I think as the years go by, this book will be seen as more and more tragic, and an extremely good record of 1980s America at it's most empty and decadent. When it was first released some reviewers misread it as some kind of nihilistic call-to-arms for young party people. There's even an excerpt on the back of the book from one reviewer who compares the characters to The Beat Generation and generally approves of their wild party antics. I think now that the dust has settled it's easier to understand the meaning of this book. There's no soul in this party.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bruno Alves on 3 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I think the most astonishing thing about Bret Easton Ellis's first book is how well constructed it is, how it permanently keeps you on edge, and how effectively it conveys an atmosphere of increasing dread out of what starts out to be just an impressive amount of shallowness. American Psycho notwithstanding, Less than Zero might just be his most powerful book, and if you are new to Ellis, then you are in for a real treat. For those in the know, all the familiar Ellis themes are already firmly in place: the emptiness, the alienation, the complete boredom of a spoiled generation - abandoned and eaten by their parents - who only get their kicks in the most perverse and obscene ways. These LA scenesters are utterly dead, or better yet, they are undead, and, like proper vampires, need to sustain themselves on a steady diet of human sacrifice. The deaths, OD's, car-crashes and snuff films are the only things that raise a flicker of genuine interest in them. All the rest (the parties, the drugs, the sex) is just business as usual.
What is not business as usual is the way Ellis carefully builds on this, introducing and exposing the reader to all the superficial drug abuse and mindless sex before building up to the real decadence underneath - the only one that seems to elicit a flicker of interest (if not true excitement) from these walking dead. And in Clay, Ellis has one of his best characters: as dead as the rest of them, he expertly guides the reader through this emotionally barren landscape, showing just the tiniest bit of troubled humanity needed to sustain the reader, towards the final scenes, before returning to his emotionally flat-lined natural state. In any novel, this type of pacing would be great, but for a first novel written in his mid-twenties, it is absolutely ace. Read it and be depressed by Ellis's brilliance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Coote on 22 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
Very much a practise run for American Psycho, this nihilistic tale of alienation and ennui among 1980s Los Angeles youth leaves the reader with a feeling of emptiness and despair. This is not alienation through poverty but through excess, the triumph of consumerism over imagination, catalysed by a second-rate culture and education system, and poor quality parenting. Narrated by Clay, on holiday in Los Angeles for Christmas, a clique of decadent and aimless young Californians subsists on a soulless diet of MTV cable, porn films, cocaine, crystal meth and loveless sex; what Philip Roth has called `the dumbest generation yet.' In this moral vacuum they drift from one ruinous party to another, indifferent to the often tragic consequences of their actions (ODs, abortions), balancing precariously between a meaningless life and a meaningless death. The novel is powerful, effective and accomplished in a horrible sort of way, with an undertone of menace, but in the end you can't help feeling that it is as pointless as the lives of the cartoon-ish characters within. A book to sink the spirits.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. Butler on 28 April 2007
Format: Paperback
An amazing debut novel from Ellis. The characters in this book inhabit a world in which morality simply does not exist. No consideration is ever given to the rights and wrongs of a behaviour. It is a savage indictment of modern culture in which the consumption of experiences and sensations prevails over all else. It is a world inwhich the individual takes precident over society as a whole. It can be read as attack on 1980's economic liberalism where there was "no such thing as society" and where "greed is good".

All this is written in a sparse style that merely provides us with a narrative of events, never offering us any moral interpretation of these events.

All this said, it could just be about a bunch of rich kids screwing and getting high.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Aug. 1999
Format: Paperback
An effective portrayal of a defunct and desolate generation, whose world consists of sleazy sex and drugs, everything's for sale. Clay gives such a detached narrative, almost diary like, trapped on a personal conveyor belt to emptiness. His coldness, and emotional numbness to this world is so effective that you occasionally feel lost also. A great novel, almost like a diary, not really consisting of any major storylines, however still an intensely effective depiction of how those who have everything are often the most unfulfilled.
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