by Bret Easton Ellis (2005)
I can kind of understand why some Bret Easton Ellis fans told me not to bother with Lunar Park. It’s a love it or leave it (The Boston Globe said it may be the worst novel I’ve ever read) book that really depends on how much you’re willing to go with him on a journey, not fueled by sexy young things, drugs and privilege (well, OK there is a bit of that) but on a journey that most closely resembles Poltergeist meets faux self loathing. Yes, Ellis has pretty much created a straight up horror summer reading book with loads of meta meta meta.
The main character is Bret Easton Ellis, and while most of his life story and persona are true, the skyrocketing fame and parties of the real Ellis are well known, much of the biography of this “Bret Easton Ellis” is purely made up. (I was one of the clueless who looked up the book version of Bret Easton Ellis’ girlfriend, Jayne Dennis to see if she was real – she’s as real as Dorsia – which I also looked up). He is a world famous, controversial author now living the suburban life with his wife, her daughter, and his estranged son while reluctantly teaching at his alma mater and trying to carry on affairs with his students.
There’s cocaine, there’s alcohol, there’s clever cynicism.. even Jay McInerney shows up – but the book takes on something entirely new for Ellis when the McMansion he lives in starts to show signs of being possessed. Lights begin to flicker, footsteps burn themselves into the carpeting, a Furby like doll turns animals inside out, and a hairy creature crawls up the stairs. Patrick Bateman , the serial killer from American Psycho also makes an appearance – killing locals based on the novel and young neighborhood boys are (willfully?) disappearing. I’m not surprised that he says the book was an homage to Stephen King because it shares much more with those genre books than I think most fans were interested in.
It’s sometimes complicated, sometimes melodramatic, often cinematic (you can easily see many of the scenes played out in a movie) and definitely surreal but it’s mostly about the pain of bad father and son relationships. Well, that and violent ghosts.
Best to enter this one without expectations and a love for the horror book genre.