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Imperial Bedrooms
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The old gang from "Less Than Zero" are revisited in a sort of sequel, "Imperial Bedrooms". They were wasted as teenagers and they're wasted in middle age. Trent Burroughs is married to Blair, Julian Wells is around, Rip Millar is creepier than the last time, while Clay is as vapid and self-absorbed as ever.

The story begins with a film Clay wrote and is helping produce, "The Listeners", where he meets a desperate and beautiful actress, Rain Turner, who will do anything for a starring role. Clay and Rain become involved but then the murders start happening and Clay doesn't realise what he's gotten himself into nor who Rain really is. Mysterious texts follow sackings of his flat and blue/green BMWs stalking Clay wherever he goes. Somehow his "friends" are all tied into this and Clay has to decide who to trust...

If not for the characters' names this could easily be a standalone book rather than a sequel. Besides finding out that our heroes of "Less" turn out to be older and still behave like they did 25 years ago, it's not exactly a revelatory update. But that's fine because the book is more than the better for it. It launches straight into the story. The story seems very The Hills/The OC in style; it's all about who slept with who, what their game is, jilted love, revenge, etc. except for several horrific scenes. I'm thinking of what Clay does to the two hookers at the end and the grotesque murder (all detailed) of one of the main characters by another. Also, while this is a Hollywood novel, Ellis doesn't do what most Hollywood novels do and inject satire or parody into the story. It's a straightfoward serious story that plays off of perceived Hollywood stereotypes to construct something original.

Ellis specialises in 1st person narration and Clay's voice is as cold and dispassionate as it was in the '80s and the familiar scenes of drug abuse and sexual exploitation are told with all the emotional resonance of a shopping list. We see the story through Clay's eyes and his lack of interest in his friends from "Less Than Zero" heighten their characters' level of interest in the reader. Rip in particular is a menacing figure who seems to be somehow omnipotent but because Clay shields himself from finding out about Rip's life, we never know more about him, making Rip even more terrifying. Clay's a great character who evolves throughout the story from being emotionally detached to become totally changed, finally ending on the words "I never liked anyone and I'm afraid of people".

"1985-2010" follow the final sentence and makes me wonder if Ellis is giving up novel writing or maybe he's giving up writing the type of novel he's famous for. I hope that's not the case. Even if some will look at this and dislike aspects of it (and if you've read Ellis before and didn't like him, this book won't change your opinion), Ellis is still by far one of the finest novelists around at the moment. It was never going to be the groundbreaking book "Less Than Zero" was but it has the virtue of being more interesting than almost any novel published this year. "Imperial Bedrooms" is overall a well written and worthwhile read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The old gang from "Less Than Zero" are revisited in a sort of sequel, "Imperial Bedrooms". They were wasted as teenagers and they're wasted in middle age. Trent Burroughs is married to Blair, Julian Wells is around, Rip Millar is creepier than the last time, while Clay is as vapid and self-absorbed as ever.

The story begins with a film Clay wrote and is helping produce, "The Listeners", where he meets a desperate and beautiful actress, Rain Turner, who will do anything for a starring role. Clay and Rain become involved but then the murders start happening and Clay doesn't realise what he's gotten himself into nor who Rain really is. Mysterious texts follow sackings of his flat and blue/green BMWs stalking Clay wherever he goes. Somehow his "friends" are all tied into this and Clay has to decide who to trust...

If not for the characters' names this could easily be a standalone book rather than a sequel. Besides finding out that our heroes of "Less" turn out to be older and still behave like they did 25 years ago, it's not exactly a revelatory update. But that's fine because the book is more than the better for it. It launches straight into the story. The story seems very The Hills/The OC in style; it's all about who slept with who, what their game is, jilted love, revenge, etc. except for several horrific scenes. I'm thinking of what Clay does to the two hookers at the end and the grotesque murder (all detailed) of one of the main characters by another. Also, while this is a Hollywood novel, Ellis doesn't do what most Hollywood novels do and inject satire or parody into the story. It's a straightfoward serious story that plays off of perceived Hollywood stereotypes to construct something original.

Ellis specialises in 1st person narration and Clay's voice is as cold and dispassionate as it was in the '80s and the familiar scenes of drug abuse and sexual exploitation are told with all the emotional resonance of a shopping list. We see the story through Clay's eyes and his lack of interest in his friends from "Less Than Zero" heighten their characters' level of interest in the reader. Rip in particular is a menacing figure who seems to be somehow omnipotent but because Clay shields himself from finding out about Rip's life, we never know more about him, making Rip even more terrifying. Clay's a great character who evolves throughout the story from being emotionally detached to become totally changed, finally ending on the words "I never liked anyone and I'm afraid of people".

"1985-2010" follow the final sentence and makes me wonder if Ellis is giving up novel writing or maybe he's giving up writing the type of novel he's famous for. I hope that's not the case. Even if some will look at this and dislike aspects of it (and if you've read Ellis before and didn't like him, this book won't change your opinion), Ellis is still by far one of the finest novelists around at the moment. It was never going to be the groundbreaking book "Less Than Zero" was but it has the virtue of being more interesting than almost any novel published this year. "Imperial Bedrooms" is overall a well written and worthwhile read.
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on 17 February 2013
'Less Than Zero' was given to me as a gift and I've never read anything like it before. The minimalist style, the lack of chapters (making events flow in some kind of relentless monotony), the story itself - I would reccomend it to anyone. Knowing there was a sequel I decided it may be worth checking out. Despite seeing a number of mixed reviews I bought it, knowing that sometimes the reviews don't do the books justice.
Having read it, I unfortunately must admit that I understand why 'Imperial Bedrooms' wasn't received too warmly. It starts off alright, with the 'real' Clay reflecting on how his life was "hijacked" by a mysterious author, but events quickly become rather boring. The film meetings and parties just aren't that interesting, though this may have something to do with the ages of the characters (they aren't as lively in their forties). Things get slightly more interesting as Clay's flawed relationship with Rain develops, but even then there is little excitement and it remains between somewhere between boring and exciting for the rest of the book.
Clay and Rain's relationship flags up another problem. Anyone who's read "Less Than Zero" will know that Clay had his flaws in that book - the complete lack of emotion, the addiction, etc. Ellis tries to show how much more flawed an adult Clay is when it comes to relationships, but in my opinion he overdoes it and as a consequence he makes Clay completely unlikeable. You could sometimes sympathise with the young Clay, but here it's almost impossible. His attitude towards women (they're basically just there to fill his sleazy desires) and his friends (he betrays them with little care) is quite disgusting. This is most likely deliberate - after all, it is stated at the beginning of the book that this is a different Clay. Still, I preferred the one that I could understand, even if he was constantly coked-up and incapable of emotion.
The only other issue I can think of right now is the mess of subplots. 'Imperial Bedrooms' adopts slightly more convential story-telling techniques, with one storyline split into sections instead of multiple events filling the book. To make things more interesting, Ellis adds a story involving Clay's friends and a number of murder victims, but this becomes hard to keep track of. Characters hint at others' involvement and try to talk about what's going on vaguely, leading to it all becoming a bit of a mess.
You can see that with 'Imperial Bedrooms', Ellis was trying to show this new Clay's deeper problems in a more convential format (with typical murder mystery storylines thrown in to spice things up). However, reading it just made me feel rather disappointed that this is what came after the great book that 'Less Than Zero' was. The surface storyline (Clay's life in film and his relationship with Rain) alternates between being boring, slightly interesting and sickening, and the murder subplots just become confusing. It may benefit from some re-reading, but otherwise I would tell any fans of 'Less Than Zero' who are curious about this to give it a miss.
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on 18 November 2012
I thought he'd "lost it" with Glamorama but was delighted with the bonkers imagery and humour of Lunar Park.

Here, we see Ellis reveal a finely tuned, almost crystalline, minimalist study in form. As ever, if you're trying to follow or, God forbid, make sense of a plot you'll be disappointed; this piece is about evocation of mood and it drills right under the skin.

Ellis slowly and masterfully builds a feeling of lurking paranoia through a narrator with whom we might sympathise to some extent. Through the horrific chapter later in the book, criticised by many, we see the thorough and devastating destruction of any humanity we might have credited Clay with along with the rest of the society around him.

You're reading a unique writer, here, at the very top of his game. Ellis is, essentially, a moralist who describes a world in which there's nothing left to moralise about. That he manages to be at once both disgusted and hilarious while maintaining such a terse style is proof of his skill. As ever, his main point is that consumerism makes monsters of us; he finds some hideous new ways to communicate the idea in this novel.

There's not much to complain about if you're a fan. I wished it was a longer read but it's clearly intended as a finely-tuned sucker-punch to non-believers. Easily read in a single sitting if you're so inclined.

To Ellis' followers this is very highly recommended; newcomers: start with American Psycho.
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I'm a fan of Ellis and own his other titles so I thought I would purchase this book to complete my collection. If you have read less than zero you will be familiar with the characters in this book, which is supposedly a sequel, however even though I enjoyed less than zero, the characters in imperial bedrooms seem very one dimensional and the book doesn't seem to go anywhere, when I got to the end I wondered if I had missed something.
The plot is very flimsy if not none existant; its basically about guys who go around using and abusing everyone and everything they come across in the most degrading ways possible and leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. It seems that everyone in the book are sociopaths at the very least, if not psychopaths, and while I know all the characters of Ellis's books are damaged, everyone in this book just seem evil.
Despite enjoying his other books, Imperial bedrooms just comes across as an exercise in moral nihilism and doesn't seem to have much to say for itself.
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on 16 March 2015
Rules of Attraction is my favourite BEE novel, I loved the first person point of view on simple observations and relationships. American Psycho and Less Than Zero are also good novels in this regard, in particular the character of Clay. I still like his character in this novel and the book has glimmers of the spark of the older novels that I enjoy. However this plot gets pretty f*cked up and to be honest it ruins the read for me. But for 75% its a good sequel, a page turner and I don't regret buying it. If BEE could lay off the insane violence for one novel it would be most appreciated!!!!
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VINE VOICEon 18 April 2014
I suspect this book makes sense inside BEE's head - he simply forgot to convey it clearly to the reader. I got nothing from it - 20 pages into the plot I didn't even know who was who. Characters are muddily outlined and passages whizz by unnoticed - while the book floats further and further away from the reader's grasp like a boat disappearing into the horizon.

Humour is absent. Wit is a mirage. I spent years defending BEE's prose to friends - he was my favourite living writer. I never thought mediocrity would slap me in the face like it did with Imperial Bedrooms.
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on 20 February 2014
Well put together; in my opinion another beauty.
The characters, i.e Clay, Rip, Blair and Trent are older and more shady now.
They drive high into the mountain tops, to ensure their conversations are not overheard and are all successful adults, either married or dating young models, call girls etc.
Set by the sea, Imperial Bedrooms has a far more laid back vibe than American Psycho, however in contrast to the seeming innocence and beauty of the characters and scenery, in a way the crimes seem even more disturbing.
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on 31 October 2013
Maybe it was because I am looking at a writer from the perspectives of his cult classics, but I feel that this novel really didn't show the development and maturity that the years between less than zero and this one offered. Instead, the style suggests someone was trying too hard to revisit old mechanisms. For me, it was a tired attempt to recapture the magic of his former artistic glory, as an episodic style barely suited the storyline that went nowhere for characters I cared little about.
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on 24 March 2015
I am a big fan of him but if I am being honest this really reads like someone who is bored with writing and is sleepwalking through the motions lured by the, no doubt, handsome pay check at the end of it. There are some trademark Easton Ellis elements found here but you have to trawl through plenty of tedious and lazy litter to find them. It's worth reading and it helps that's it's so short but if you haven't read him before start at the beginning or anywhere before here really.
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