America's gleeful psycho, Bret Easton Ellis returns with his most provocative and engaging effort yet. Showing his meta-fictional mettle, Ellis turns himself into the main character, offering up a memoir of drug-addled novelist who gets a shot at redemption. But the bliss of marriage (to a movie star, no less) and fatherhood evaporates amid the mayhem of a series of murders. Yet somehow this send-up of suburbia, the horror genre, and the very art of the memoir becomes a gripping journey. Middle age be damned: This talented Gen-X author hasn't lost a bit of his edge.
Ellis also evokes with nightmarish clarity a certain kind of upper-middle-class life, where all the children are Ritalin-dependent and even the family golden retriever is on Prozac. These scenes, the book's strongest, suggest the chilly horror of J.G. Ballard's best work.
The Washington Post
Lunar Park culminates in an exquisite closing passage that is a phantasmagoria of love and loss, a fusion of hallucination and wisdom, a couple of pages so stirringly executed that they beautifully illuminate all that has come before. If this is the author being carried off on a flight of imagination, he also stirringly transports the reader. But if he has written this with utter clarity and no excuses, he also reinvents himself. The book's last words do not come from the Bret we used to know.
The New York Times
Patrick Bateman, the sociopath of American Psycho, is back, or at least Bret Easton Ellis thinks so. That's Bret Easton Ellis the character, not Bret Easton Ellis the author, except the character is also the author of American Psycho. The truth is, it's hard to sort truth from fiction in Ellis' latest novel. Van Der Beek (who starred as Sean Bateman, Patrick's younger brother in the film adaptation of Ellis's Rules of Attraction) does a fabulous job of playing a nihilistic, bored, paranoid and endlessly irresponsible writer. Though the character is drug-addled for a large portion of the book, Van Der Beek does not portray the stupor in his voice; instead he recounts Ellis's keen observations with the perfect sense of removal and lack of ownership. This distance serves well the horror genre that Ellis flirts with: the listener experiences everything through the main character's eyes, though that character has a reputation for being less than reliable. The Ellis character is done so smoothly that one may think that we are hearing Van Der Beek's natural tone. It is not until hearing him read the smaller roles of the other characters that the listener realizes the range of his capabilities. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover (Reviews, June 27). (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Presented as a novel rather than a faux memoir, Lunar Park, read by James Van Der Beek, attempts to be satirical but is so self-reverential of the lead character/author's flaws, it often sounds like the worst cheap gossip columns or blog. Ellis may be disproving Socrates's proclamation that "an unexamined life is not worth living," be this fiction or not. The prolog sets the mood, dragging on indicatively as the rambling drug-riddled tale swings between fits of semiapologetic smarminess and potential horror. As his own lead character and narrator, Ellis calls on all his past real and fictional demons and creates a privileged world out of familiar pop culture celebrities in a horror mystery that may or may not be purely delusional. There is an audience for this work among the author's fans, but it may be a rather select group. Not recommended.-Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
For his fifth and most enjoyable novel, Ellis has found the perfect anti-hero: himself. We start with an overview of his life and oeuvre. The author/narrator, a narcissistic, self-pitying drug fiend, gets a shot at redemption when movie star Jayne Dennis, an old flame, offers to marry him. The deal is that he must now connect with Robby, the son he has shunned for 11 years. The father-son relationship is the novel's major theme and plot pivot; the 1992 death of Bret's difficult father was traumatic. Bret jumps at the offer. How will the celebrity author handle marriage, fatherhood and life in the suburbs? He can't hack it. He loses his desire for Jayne in his drive to seduce Aimee, a student at the local college; he quickly reverts to his cocaine and vodka habits (Brat Pack buddy Jay McInerney shows up for a druggy Halloween party); and he resents his cold, distant son. This is all as fascinating as a car wreck and is frequently very funny. Then things get weird. Terby, the mechanical bird doll owned by Sarah, Jayne's daughter by a different father, comes to sinister life. Bret receives mysterious e-mails from the bank where his father's ashes are deposited. Boys in the neighborhood disappear, and there is a wave of grisly murders modeled on those in American Psycho. The story of a doomed marriage blends with a satirical take on upscale suburban angst, a campy horror story about a haunted house, a Frankenstein-like case of a monster unchained and a serious rumination on the damage fathers can do to sons. Ellis stirs these elements into a steamy witches' brew and works his way through to a marvelously elegiac ending, displaying real artistic discipline. "Every word is true," declaresBret-but then again, a writer's life is "a maelstrom of lying."Even his harshest critics may now have to acknowledge that this versatile, resourceful writer has formidable skills. First printing of 125,000
From the Publisher
"Addictive. . . . Sublime. . . . Exquisite. . . . Stirringly executed. . . . A phantasmagoria of love and loss, a fusion of hallucination and wisdom."–The New York Times
“The deftness with which Ellis handles an entertaining and suspenseful plot, as well as a sophisticated play between truth and fiction, real selves and imagined selves, is impressive. Lunar Park is not only enjoyable and consuming, but insightful.”–San Francisco Chronicle
“John Cheever writes The Shining. . . . A strange triumph. . . . Here is a book that progresses from darkness and banality to light and epiphany with surprising strength and sureness.”–Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly
“A mesmerizing read. . . . Genuinely frightening. . . . Lunar Park is a story about the momentous pain parents inflict on their children. . . . The worst violence is internal and emotional, and in its beautiful closing pages, this rich, deceptively complex novel argues that’s the most damaging violence of all.”–The Miami Herald
Read an Excerpt
Please visit eastonellis.com to read an excerpt, and get more information about the book.
From the Hardcover edition.