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Less Than Zero Paperback – Unabridged, 3 Nov 2006

3.6 out of 5 stars 109 customer reviews

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Less Than Zero
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New edition edition (3 Nov. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330447971
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330447973
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 408,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'It is all too relevant to teenagers today'
--Alastair Hutchinson in The Times

Book Description

The cult classic reissued to celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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This book seems boring and shallow, and reading it gives me an anesthetized, hollow, detached feeling that I would not describe as entirely pleasant.

And yet I cannot seem to stop, and whenever I have to, I become very anxious to return to it as quickly as I can. Its appeal is no less powerful for being difficult to pinpoint or explain.

This experience reminds me of something, but I'm not sure what.... Oh yeah, I know: Bright Lights, Big City. Way better, though, so far. I love all the characters' clothes.
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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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Format: Paperback
I went into a bookshop looking for American Psycho, but ended up being attracted to Bret Easton Ellis' first novel instead, not least because it said he wrote it when he was my age.
I consider myself a writer's worst reader, because it takes a lot to keep me turning the page. I get lost in endless poetic prose, tune off and then put down. I have to say, though, that Less Than Zero is the first book I've read in about seven years which I considered 'unputdownable' (even if I had to, it reaching 2am on several occasions).
It's a difficult book to sum up. There's very little in the way of narrative that I can pin down. Teenager Clay comes back from college after a term away and slides back into his old, banal, repetitive lifestyle, except now, having escaped it for a while, he begins to see it for what it is. Ellis' crisp, frugal prose reminds me of Hemingway, but Hemingway not afraid to hide what he's saying behind politically correct metaphors.
At times it was moving, and others shocking, but it was never less than absorbing, even if much of what Ellis writes about here is a representation of boredom. By the end, I was almost feeling sympathetic toward Clay. Ellis could have made it more of a clear cut tragedy, but I don't think it would have been as half as realistic (and therefore, effective) as it is.
Since reading this I've gone out and bought the rest of Ellis' books.
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Format: Paperback
The first book I have ever read by Ellis and I will be reading more as a result. I have just finished the book and it has become one of my all time favourites. Ellis writes about boredom and irrelevant conversation in a gripping manner. Hard to comprehend I know but the author summaries the 80's perfectly. Anyone in their mid-twenties onwards should be able to relate to this book and find it spot on and possibly even miss those times.
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