Brett Easton Ellis, you got served -- by Stephen King!

For a while now -- at least a year, maybe a bit longer --- Stephen King (yes, that Stephen King) has had a back-page column in Entertainment Weekly, in which he writes about ... well, pretty much whatever he feels like writing about. It's pretty clear EW has given him free reign, which quite often results in moments of unintentional comedy as the author explores the wilds of pop culture like he's your trying-to-be-hip, 60-year-old uncle. A few months ago, for instance, King babbled on about how cool these new ipod thingamajigs were, and how you can -- get this! -- download music from the Internet.

This week, though, King turns his attention to writing -- specifically, Brett Easton Ellis' new novel Lunar Park -- and writes what has to be his best EW column yet (not that the competition was very stiff). Maybe he should have stuck to writing about books from the start.

I haven't read Lunar Park yet, so I can't say whether I agree with King's assessment of the book (he liked it). But I thought his brief, biting review of American Psycho was a very accurate, and funny, description of what went wrong in that novel:

"I'm not quite a Brett Easton Ellis virgin. I read American Psycho just to see what all the bellowing was about, and thought it was bad fiction by a good writer, the sort of hectoring narrative you can't wait to get away from at a party, delivered by a guy who's backed you into a corner and keeps telling repetitive anecdotes while his drink dribbles slowly onto your shirt."


And I couldn't agree more. I'm actually a fan of Ellis' other work -- particularly his first couple novels; even, to some extent, the weird, surrealist Glamorama -- but American Psycho I couldn't even finish.

King goes on to say lots of nice things about Lunar Park, which is like "John Cheever writes The Shining." He also thinks it's unfair that critics "have stuck it in the literary microwave and given it about four hours on high."

"Even in American Psycho, that boringly bloodthirsty book, it was clear to me that Ellis was a fine storyteller. It's this facet of his writing that has most appealed to readers and been most overlooked by critics. It seems at times to have appalled Ellis himself (one could almost believe it's the Terby hidden inside his laptop, flexing its claws). I got a clear sense of Lunar Park starting almost as a joke -- perhaps a rather desperate one, part apology for American Psycho -- and having finished as what is close to a credo. That is the true magic of novels, which often possess more strength (and reality) than their creators suppose: They see into our secret hearts."

1 comment:

dave said...

Bret Easton Ellis versus Stephen King: now that's a dance off I would pay to see.

This reminds me of another literary stunt we could try to pull, just like the Literary Dodgeball Challenge: we'll "serve" various literary magazines and challenge them to a dance off.

With the Aaron Pease Flight of Icarus Dance in our pocket, we will never lose.

Paris Review: you have been served. Now dance, bitches, dance!