RaveEsquireIt is lurid, grisly, violent, sexy, explicit, ambiguous, chill, funny, sad, and creepy, and so perfectly Bret Easton Ellis-y that at times it flirts with self-parody — which, one suspects, is very much the idea. It’s hard to avoid the cliched poster-quote: if you like Bret Easton Ellis novels you’ll love this. If you hate Bret Easton Ellis novels this won’t persuade you otherwise. If you’ve never read a Bret Easton Ellis novel, starting here won’t hurt, but you might have even more fun if you first mainline the classics ... The Shards play[s] fast and loose with various degraded literary modes — metafiction, autofiction ... Inhaling these novels, Ellis’s readers became accustomed to the metronomic repetition of brand names, band names, street names, the names of minor characters, reeled off like shopping lists. Some find this stuff confounding, or boring, the rest of us lie back and surrender to the ride. To some extent, the trick with Ellis’s fiction is to let it wash over you. It’s a mood, a vibe ... Ellis’s preoccupation is with aesthetics. His writing is decorous, but he has no interest in decorum ... readers new to Ellis may find The Shards \'ick\' or \'cringe\' or even \'triggering\'. (Novels are supposed to trigger something, aren’t they? But perhaps I’m missing the point.) Those who disapprove should reflect on the fact that for as long as he’s been writing Ellis has risked scorn and objection, from Left and Right both ... The Shards is queasily gripping, strikingly heartfelt, and a whole lot of fun. The novel does not deserve to be overlooked, though stranger things have happened.
RaveEsquire (UK)One Two Three Four, published to coincide with the 50th anniversary, on 10 April, of the break-up of The Beatles, is an exploded biography of the band. It is a critical appreciation, a personal history, a miscellany, a work of scholarship and speculation, and a tribute ... Like Ma’am Darling, and like life itself, One Two Three Four is a tragicomedy. Both dark and sunny, like a Lennon/McCartney song.