Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Less Than Zero : A Winter Read

The link above is to an article on the Guardian website written in December of last year and it is titled "Winter Read: Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis". The article talks about how the book is a good read when in the freezing cold winter as it entails the occasional pool party and people wearing sunglasses and you can forget it is set in the winter break. However, the article goes on further to discuss issues within the novel and the author of the article, Dan Holloway, gives his view and opinion on the book. He states how nothing really changes through out the novel between the opening line of "People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles" to "After I left". He then mentions how the only thing that really seems to evolve through out the book is the main character Clay's growing disgust for the lifestyle he is living. As the author of the article describes "the endless round of casual sex, drugs, and violence that changes nothing  about the world in which, and the people to whom, they occur.". This sums up the entirety of the book, how it just follows the characters living the rich lifestyle of Los Angeles in the 1980's. It doesn't have much content in the book, with the author of the article picking up on the fact that there are no conversations, just "internal monologues thrown out randomly that cross without touching". Which I think is completely true, with most of the dialogue being vague and short, just discussing what the characters have been up to but none of the characters give much away. 

The article highlights that the book makes the reader identify Clay's disgust with the actions of the other characters, but also makes us disgust him and his actions. As well as picking up on the fact that although the character of Clay realises in the end the consequences of his actions there is no great discovery or nobility of Clay's repulsion with the actions of some of the characters. Then towards the end of the book Clay thinks over the images in his head of what has happened over the break and it is encompassed into a song playing on the radio. The article makes a good quote: "Only they aren't even real images, they're the words of a song playing on the radio, an echo of a world that itself is a shabby echo of reality." I think that makes a good link between the main character Clay and the city of Los Angeles at the time. And that in a way through the time of the book nothing has really changed with the character and in turn with LA, as the article states, "we know that both he and Los Angeles remain fundamentally the same.". 

Despite the article stating clear issues from the book and writing of how it deals with representations of the 1980's, it states at the end that "Less Than Zero is not about Los Angeles, or the 80s, or drugs, or hipsters.". Instead the article claims that the ideals of the book still live on in todays era, it states that the book "It's every time we turn on the news. It's every time we pass splintered glass on the road. It's every time we walk down the street with our headphones on. It's every time we close our eyes and go to sleep leaving the world behind.". This feature, it says, is Less Than Zero's "redeeming feature", the author of the article says, "maybe it is a bud of hope, of change, of spring. But I can't help thinking, I hope it isn't.". This statement claiming that Clay's world in the book does touch us as an audience in a way that we may not recognise. So in this sense the article states that the book does deal with the issues of representations of the 1980s, such as: the blank generation, drugs, commodities, youth culture, Los Angeles and music. But it develops the idea further by saying the book is not fundamentally about this, but it is true and exists in life today.   

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