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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Dead Generation
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...
Published on 8 Sept. 2005 by rp

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3.0 out of 5 stars "Everything is the same, but different"
"I don't want to care. If I care about things, it'll just be worse, it'll just be another thing to worry about. It's less painful if I don't care." - Clay

If there is ever an overlooked aspect to the work of Andy Warhol, it's that he's not known by the majority so much for his writings, beyond those found on a soup can label.

Warhol's deadpan...
Published 19 months ago by Charles Trotman


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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Dead Generation, 8 Sept. 2005
This review is from: Less Than Zero (Picador Books) (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
4.0 out of 5 stars Depressingly brilliant, 3 Nov. 2007
By 
Bruno Alves "mfan" (Lisbon, Portugal) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Less Than Zero (Paperback)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars The dumbest generation yet, 22 Oct. 2007
By 
Trevor Coote "Trevor Coote" (Tahiti, French Polynesia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Less Than Zero (Picador Books) (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
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawless, 28 April 2007
By 
R. Butler (Tyneside) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Less Than Zero (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
5.0 out of 5 stars No place called home..., 17 July 2010
This review is from: Less Than Zero (Paperback)
My favourite Ellis book, but then again I'm biased as I like all of them. It also heavily reminds me of my own first break from university returning to a home town that now seemed out of place. The shortest book of his career to date it can be easily read in one day in go, rather like the visiting Clay you come back, go in, leave before your times out and reach for a sign that reads 'No Exit'. I find its best to read Ellis's books in order as he has created his own little universe of characters appearing in all his books from minor becoming main players and vica-versa. So this book should always be the starting point for any new Brett Easton Ellis reader. The main is simply a generation x genius.
PS: Shame about the '80s film of it!
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3.0 out of 5 stars "Everything is the same, but different", 13 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Less Than Zero (Paperback)
"I don't want to care. If I care about things, it'll just be worse, it'll just be another thing to worry about. It's less painful if I don't care." - Clay

If there is ever an overlooked aspect to the work of Andy Warhol, it's that he's not known by the majority so much for his writings, beyond those found on a soup can label.

Warhol's deadpan distanced view of the world, found in work such as The Andy Warhol Diaries seems to have rubbed off on Ellis, the book drifts through the central character Clay's world of meaningless conversations and drug fuelled orgies, where billboard slogans are given more attention than any of the characters within the book.

The strongest aspects of the book are the enigmatic memories of the main character watching his cancer ridden grandmother fade away and descriptions that give some meaning to advertisements, such as the watchful eyes of an Elvis Costello which clearly recalls the billboard of T.J Eckleburg found within The Great Gatsby. At these times, it feels like Ellis is truly shoving the mirror of society in your face and forcing you to comprehend a dose of full fat banality and mortality. Be warned, working off seeing things the way Ellis does within his work takes more than a few Valium.

Less than Zero was written before American Psycho and in some ways, it's a lesser version of it's brilliance. It has all the long paragraphs about 80′s pop culture, described in the same tone as violent and perverse acts causing same desensitizing effect on the reader.

What is missing for me, beyond the higher shock value is any major experimentation with the written style that was found in American Psycho and in many ways, Clay takes on all of Patrick Bateman's banal aspects without the surreal humour of the character coming across as someone Bateman would hack to bits after a nice dinner at Dorsia's.

This is where it all falls apart and Ellis's style becomes tiresome, without any conclusion, you are just getting enigmatic paragraphs that can seem either harrowing or just narrow minded. You are left feeling empty by its motto of: "Everything is the same, but different" and no doubt this is the intended effect. But like Clay, you are left not caring and while you know it's an important first work...you...just...don't...care.

Skip this and make a reservation with American Psycho for a full flavor of the authors distinctive style.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A tale of the emptiness of the teenagers who have everything..., 19 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Less Than Zero (Paperback)
In this anti-consumerist story everything is available in excess, be in clothes, cars, drugs or sex and few of these things provide any real satisfaction. All of the characters are numbed to life and their individual quests for fulfillment seem futile and misguided. Lacking friends or family who genuinely care for them they live listless lives driving from one unexciting party to the next or find themselves going to extremes of drug use or sex. I found it susprising that one of the quotes on the back of this edition says that Easton-Ellis "refuses to condone or condemn" his characters actions because whilst the novel is not anti sex or drugs I think that most readers would agree for these characters their actions are frequently a result of some deeper lack of love/fulfillment in their lives.

This debut novel has a very distinctive style which compliments the detatchment of its characters, which situations described with a lack of passion which gives the novel a sense of being like readable valium - it is mildly entertaining to read but in a way which totally lacks immediacy. At times I found myself wondering if I was enjoying the novel and at times it was boring.

However, ultimately I did like it for the way the style and content complimented one another and although overall the novel is in the "slice of life genre", events do move towards a conclusion which is somewhat satisfying with main character Clay witnessing the depths of the dark side of his and his friends excessive yet detatched existence and ultimately glad to end his visit home to the L.A suburbs and return to his course in New Hampshire.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "That sentence shouldn't bother me, but it stays in my mind for an uncomfortably long time.", 19 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Less Than Zero (Paperback)
I had great difficulty in rating the quality of this book, as frequently I felt overwhelmingly unnerved rather than entertained or intrigued. This early work of Ellis is a forbearer for his future dark novels such as, "The Rules of Attraction," and "American Psycho." This novel gives us a clear indication of who Bret Easton Ellis is; he is undoubtedly a brilliant author who compels us to view the eyes of a dark world through his even darker protagonists.

The novel is presented through the eyes of Clay, an affluent college student who has returned to Los Angeles during the winter. Throughout the novel Clay is shown to take drugs and attend various parties where illicit and increasingly illegal acts take place. Eventually this party like atmosphere extends to his everyday life, profoundly affecting his personality as well as his strained relationship with his former girlfriend Blair. As Clay's life and the lives of those around him descend into chaos the reader is given a real insight into the dark side of the "MTV generation."

This book can be seen as the foundation for the modern dystopian novel. This bleak outlook on human nature is both compelling and frightening, truly leading the reader to question if morality has a place in the modern world. If not stylistically perfect, this book is worth reading simply for an interesting, (if not harrowing,) view into the mind of a young confused college student. Being young and confused myself, I was able to associate with the characters and as such thoroughly enjoyed this novel!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Repellent characters that do nothing, 9 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Less Than Zero (Paperback)
I'm sure some will say that this book is an allegory for a moral decline in American youth etc. When I read a book I want to find a story, good writing, characters etc. This was just a series of pointless activities by repellent self absorbed non-characters - went to party, took drugs, had pointless conversation, may or may not have sex, wake up, go to party, take drugs, have pointless conversations and so on in an endless pattern. The last couple of chapters are particularly unpleasant, especially the lead character's ambivalence and inaction at events taking place.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Desolate but effective, 14 Aug. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Less Than Zero (Picador Books) (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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Less Than Zero (Picador Books)
Less Than Zero (Picador Books) by Bret Easton Ellis (Paperback - Feb. 1986)
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