Bret Easton Ellis ~ Imperial Bedrooms

January 9, 2011

Imperial Bedrooms is a novel by American author Bret Easton Ellis.

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Released on June 15, 2010, it is the sequel to Less Than Zero,

Ellis’ 1985 bestselling literary debut,

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which was shortly followed by a film adaptation in 1987.

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Imperial Bedrooms

revisits Less Than Zero’s self-destructive and disillusioned youths

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as they approach middle-age in the present day.

Like Ellis’ earlier novel, which took its name from Elvis Costello’s 1977 song of the same name,

Imperial Bedrooms is named after Costello’s 1982 album.

Imperial Bedrooms, unlike Less Than Zero, is plot-driven.

The action of the novel takes place twenty-five years after Less Than Zero.

Its story follows Clay, a New York-based screenwriter after he returns to Los Angeles

to cast his new film adaptation.

There, he becomes embroiled in the sinister world of his former friends

and confronts the darker aspects of his own personality.

The novel opens with

a

literary device

that establishes the world of Imperial Bedrooms

to be similar to

but not exactly that of

Less Than Zero.

In doing this,

Ellis is able to comment on the earlier novel’s style and on the development of its moralistic film adaptation.

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The device allows Ellis to explore Clay’s pathological narcissism, masochistic and sadistic tendencies,

and the exploitative personality in the character which had not been explicit in Less Than Zero.

Ellis did this in part to dispel the sentimental reputation Less Than Zero has accrued over the years,

that of  “an artifact of the 1980s”.

Imperial Bedrooms retains Ellis’ characteristic transgressive style and applies it to the 2000s and 2010s,

covering amongst other things,

the impact of new communication technologies on daily lives.

Ellis began working on the novel during the development process of his 2005 novel, Lunar Park.

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Imperial Bedrooms depicts scenes of sex, extreme violence and hedonism in a minimalist style devoid of emotion,

recurring features in Ellis’ work.

Some commentators have noted, however, that unlike previous works,

Imperial Bedrooms employs more of the conventional devices of popular fiction.

Reviews were mixed and frequently polarised.

Some reviewers felt the novel was a successful return to themes explored in Less Than Zero and Ellis’ other novels,

such as Lunar Park and American Psycho (1991),

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while others derided it for being “boring” or self-indulgent.

Prior to the novel’s release, Ellis had already speculated about the possibility of a film adaptation

featuring the actors from the 1987 Less Than Zero film.

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Currently, there is no one attached to the film,

though the rights to its adaptation are by default already held by the studio which produced Less Than Zero.

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