Thursday, December 5, 2019

Let's dive into the kiddie pool

So, I finally managed to drag myself through Bret Easton Ellis's The Rules of Attraction, which evidently is part of a shared universe of stories centering around the rich, privileged, downright vapid people of the '80s. (Read as: Clay, protagonist of Less Than Zero, shows up here as the Dumb Guy From LA, Lauren shows up again with Victor in Glamazon, and Sean's brother Patrick is the protagonist of Ellis's infamous American Psycho.)

So, at its core, this one is basically farce, as mistaken identities abound throughout the novel, only without any humor or any real point. We're mainly focused on Sean Bateman, Paul Denton, and Lauren Hynde. They aren't the only narrators, but they're the major ones. Sean deals drugs, skips class, and sleep around. By all accounts, he's sleeping with Lauren and Paul at various points, although his narration skips over any sexual shenanigans with Paul. Paul is a drama major who spends most of his time complaining about the other gay men on campus, pining over Mitchell (whom he dated, but Mitchell was closeted....Mitchell started sleeping with Lauren, which is how they met), being obsessed with Sean.... Lauren loses her virginity at the beginning of the book, and makes up for lost time the rest of it. She's pining for Victor, who went to Europe. (Victor narrates a few chapters, mainly talking about sleeping his way across Europe and doing drugs.)

All of this is set at the exclusive Camden College in New Hampshire, where the students and the townies hate each other.

Sean keeps getting this really weird love notes in his campus mail box. He thinks they're from Lauren. We, the readers, know it's some nameless woman obsessed with Sean who slices her wrists open after watching Sean leave a party with Lauren. 

Mind you, this happens within the first half of the book, so we still have another half to go of people's ennui, ending up with Lauren having her pregnancy by Sean terminated somewhere up by the Maine border.

Overall, the book was engaging I guess, but really it was like unto Sodom, only without any purpose. Every single narrator needed slapped. Any time I felt empathy with any of them, they promptly did something even dumber that killed off any goodwill I had built up. Honestly, as much more developed this is from the movie adaption, I kind of which I had just stuck with the movie.

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