I finished “Less Than Zero” by Bret Easton Ellis (the author of American Psycho) today and I have many contradicting thoughts about this boo
It basically talks about the sons and daughters of the wealthy people of Los Angeles in the 1980’s: in particular it talks about the Christmas vacations of Clay, that went back home from college.
From the formal point of view, I didn’t quite appreciate the stream of consciousness, the short and somewhat confusing phrases: for example I found out and realized the name of the protagonist after i was reading the book for quite a long time, and the theme as well has been heard more than once. It really shows many of the problems of society, with drugs and drinking. The thing that left me most sad was how one of the girls didn’t even know where her mother was and the only information she had about her was to be read on magazines etc: this made me sad more than the drugs and the prostitution that is portrayed in the novel.
Another thing that really struck me was how these kids really didn’t have anything to lose, their parents didn’t care for them, they didn’t care for themselves! The parents only provided the money for the kids to spend on their vices, but no love or any kind of affection was displayed. There is only one “real” display of affection in the whole novel, between Kim (I think) and her father, a famous director: he has her sit on his lap to suggest him some “cute” actors to call for the next film. But this scene has something wrong in it too, I don’t know, it just gave a weird vibe to the whole.
Another aspect that shocked me was how Clay himself says that they all look the same and wonders if he, too, looks like everyone else, which was a very sad and even heart-breaking thing to say.
There are many shocking moments in this novel: but basically, I think, Ellis is trying to tell us how a part of society (the really wealthy part) was too worried about accumulating money that they didn’t care about their own children, children that to do something different, something that violence and money could (sometimes, not always) buy, would feel something, feel anything.
I wouldn’t recommend this book, though, because it’s about a topic that is explored in many other novels that describe this phenomenon in a better and more suggestive way.