Bret Easton Ellis
- When I was bullied: you manned-up. You learned something. You realized: I'm not getting the gold star. You realized: you lose. Deal with it.
- I didn’t think anyone outside of LA would read Less Than Zero. I thought The Rules of Attraction would be a huge hit. I assumed people would react to American Psycho as a comedy. I thought I showcased some of my best writing in The Informers. And I was totally caught off-guard by the amount of good reviews and bad reviews Glamorama elicited. I’ve stopped guessing because I’m always wrong. And quite honestly: I don’t care. Writing the book is the main thing. Waiting for a reaction: a waste of time. But, obviously, I hope people respond to the book in a favorable way. I don’t want people to dislike it. But I don’t really mind if they do.
- I read it for the first time in about 20 years this year–-recently. It wasn't so bad. I get it. I get fan mail now from people who weren't really born yet when the book came out. I don't think it's a perfect book by any means, but it's valid. I get where it comes from. I get what it is. I know that sounds so ambiguous. It's sort of out of my hands and it has its reputation so what can you do about it? There's a lot of it that I wish was slightly more elegantly written. Overall, I was pretty shocked. It was pretty good writing for someone who was 19. I was pretty surprised by the level of writing.
- On Less Than Zero
- It might be my favorite book of mine. It was a very exciting time in my life. I was writing that book while I was at college. Sort of like the best of times, the worst of times. There was a lot of elation, there was a lot of despair. It was just a really fun book to write. I loved mimicking all the different voices. The stream of conscious does get a little out of hand. I kind of like that about the book. It's kind of all over the place. It's casual. It's scruffy. That's the one book of mine that I have a very, very soft spot for.
- On The Rules of Attraction
- I reread that book in the summer of '03. . . . And I hadn't looked at that book either since '91. And I was dreading it. I thought it was going to be a really terrible novel. Everything everyone had ever said about it was going to be true. . . . And I started reading it... and I was surprised. It was good. It was fun. It was not nearly as pretentious as I remember I wanted it to be when I was writing it. Not nearly as weighted down with the importance that I thought I was investing it with. I found it really fast-moving. I found it really funny. And I liked it a lot. The violence was... it made my toes curl. I really freaked out. I couldn't believe how violent it was. It was truly upsetting. I had to steel myself to reread those passages.
- On American Psycho
- It's definitely the book that I can tell—I don't know if other people can tell but I can tell as a writer–-is probably the most divisive that I've written. It has an equal number of detractors as it does fans. It doesn't really hold true with the other books. It was the one that took the longest to write, and the one that seemed the most important at the time. It's an unwieldy book... I like it.
- On Glamorama
Less Than Zero (1985)
- People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles.
- Disappear here.
The Rules of Attraction (1987)
- ...and it's a story that might bore you but you don't have to listen, she told me, because she always knew it was going to be like that, and it was, she thinks, her first year, or actually weekend, really a Friday, in September, at Camden, and this was three or four years ago, and she got so drunk that she ended up in bed, lost her virginity (late, she was eighteen) in Lorna Slavin's room, because she was a Freshman and had a roommate and Lorna was, she remembers, a Senior or Junior and usually somestimes at her boyfriend's place off-campus, to who she thought was a Sophomore Ceramics major but who was actually either some guy from N.Y.U., a film student, and up in New Hampshire just for The Dressed to Get Screwed party, or a townie.
American Psycho (1991)
- ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE is scrawled in blood red lettering on the side of the Chemical Bank near the corner of Eleventh and First and is in print large enough to be seen from the backseat of the cab as it lurches forward in the traffic leaving Wall Street and just as Timothy Price notices the words a bus pulls up, the advertisement for Les Miserables on its side blocking his view, but Price who is with Pierce & Pierce and twenty-six doesn't seem to care because he tells the driver he will give him five dollars to turn up the radio, "Be My Baby" on WYNN, and the driver, black, not American, does so.
- Chapter " April Fools", p. 3; the opening of the book.
- "Wait," she gasps.
"What?" I moan, puzzled but almost there.
"Luis is a despicable twit," she gasps, trying to push me out of her.
"Yes," I say, leaning on top of her, tonguing her ear. "Luis is a despicable twit. I hate him too," and now, spurred on by her disgust for her wimp boyfriend, I start moving faster, my climax approaching.
"No, you idiot," she groans. "I said Is it a receptacle tip? Not 'Is Luis a despicable twit.' Is it a receptacle tip? Get off me."
"Is what a what? I moan.
"Pull out," she groans, struggling.
"I'm ignoring you," I say, moving my mouth down on her small perfect nipples, both of them stiff, sitting on hard, big tits.
"Pull out, goddamnit!" she screams.
"What do you want, Courtney?" I grunt, slowing my thrusts down until I finally straighten up and then I'm just kneeling over her, my cock still half inside. She hunches back against the headboard and my dick slides out.
- Chapter " Deck Chairs", p. 103; Patrick is sleeping with Courtney, the fiancee of his associate Luis Carruthers, whom he despises and later finds has a homosexual attraction towards him. The dispute is over what type of condom he is wearing.
- As the salesgirl rings up Charles's purchases, I'm playing with the baby while Nancy holds her, offering Glenn my platinum American Express card, and she grabs at it excitedly, and I'm shaking my head, talking in a high-pitched baby voice, squeezing her chin, waving the card in front of her face, cooing, "Yes I'm a total psychopathic murderer, oh yes I am, I like to kill people, oh yes I do, honey, little sweetie pie, yes I do..."
- Chapter "Paul Smith", p. 221.
- Though I am satisfied at first by my actions, I'm suddenly jolted with a mournful despair at how useless, how extraordinarily painless, it is to take a child's life. This thing before me, small and twisted and bloody, has no real history, no worthwhile past, nothing is really lost. It's so much worse (and more pleasurable) taking the life of someone who has hit his or her prime, who has the beginnings of a full history, a spouse, a network of friends, a career, whose death will upset far more people whose capacity for grief is limitless than a child's would, perhaps ruin many more lives than just the meaningless, puny death of this boy.
- Chapter "Killing Child at Zoo", p. 299.
- The smell of meat and blood clouds up the condo until I don't notice it anymore. And later my macabre joy sours and I'm weeping for myself, unable to find solace in any of this, crying out, sobbing "I just want to be loved," cursing the earth and everything I have been taught: principles, distinctions, choices, morals, compromises, knowledge, unity, prayer - all of it was wrong, without any final purpose. All it came down to was: die or adapt.
- Chapter " Tries to Cook and Eat Girl", p. 345.
- This was what I could understand, this was how I lived my life, what I constructed my movement around, how I dealt with the tangible. This was the geography around which my reality revolved: it did not occur to me, ever, that people were good or that a man was capable of change or that the world could be a better place through one's taking pleasure in a feeling or a look or a gesture, of receiving another person's love or kindness. Nothing was affirmative, the term "generosity of spirit" applied to nothing, was a cliché, was some kind of bad joke. Sex is mathematics. Individuality no longer an issue. What does intelligence signify? Define reason. Desire – meaningless. Intellect is not a cure. Justice is dead. Fear, recrimination, innocence, sympathy, guilt, waste, failure, grief, were things, emotions, that no one really felt anymore. Reflection is useless, the world is senseless. Evil is its only permanence. God is not alive. Love cannot be trusted. Surface, surface, surface was all that anyone found meaning in... this was civilization as I saw it, colossal and jagged...
- Chapter "End of the 1980s", p. 375.
- ...there is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there. It is hard for me to make sense on any given level. Myself is fabricated, an aberration. I am a noncontingent human being. My personality is sketchy and unformed, my heartlessness goes deep and is persistent. My conscience, my pity, my hopes disappeared a long time ago (probably at Harvard) if they ever did exist. There are no more barriers to cross. All I have in common with the uncontrollable and the insane, the vicious and the evil, all the mayhem I have caused and my utter indifference toward it, I have now surpassed.
- Chapter "End of the 1980s", p. 376-377.
- My pain is constant and sharp and I do not hope for a better world for anyone. In fact I want my pain to be inflicted on others. I want no one to escape. But even after admitting this – and I have, countless times, in just about every act I've committed – and coming face-to-face with these truths, there is no catharsis. I gain no deeper knowledge about myself, no new understanding can be extracted from my telling. There has been no reason for me to tell you any of this. This confession has meant nothing...
- Chapter "End of the 1980s", p. 377.
- Well, though I know I should have done that instead of not doing it, I'm twenty-seven for Christ sakes and this is, uh, how life presents itself in a bar or in a club in New York, maybe anywhere, at the end of the century and how people, you know, me, behave, and this is what being Patrick means to me, I guess, so, well, yup, uh..." and this is followed by a sigh, then a slight shrug and another sigh, and above one of the doors covered by red velvet drapes in Harry's is a sign and on the sign in letters that match the drapes' color are the words THIS IS NOT AN EXIT.
- Chapter "Harry's", p. 399., final lines
- Specks—specks all over the third panel, see?—no, that one—the second one up from the floor and I wanted to point this out to someone yesterday but a photo shoot intervened and Yaki Nakamari or whatever the hell the designer's name is—a master craftsman not—mistook me for someone else so I couldn't register the complaint, but, gentlemen—and ladies—there they are: specks, annoying, tiny specks, and they don't look accidental but like they were somehow done by a machine—so I don't want a lot of description, just the story, streamlined, no frills, the lowdown: who, what, where, when and don't leave out why, though I'm getting the distinct impression by the looks on your sorry faces that why won't get answered—now, come on, goddamnit, what's the story?
- We'll slide down the surface of things...
- 'As a general rule you shouldn't expect too much from people darling,' and then I kiss her on the cheek.
- 'I just had my makeup done, so you can't make me cry.'
- She staggers over to the bathroom door and grabs the edge of it to balance herself and blood starts running down her legs in thin rivulets and when she lifts up the robe we both can see her underwear soaked with blood and she pulls it off, panicking, and suddenly a huge gush of blood expels itself from beneath the robe, splashing all over the bathroom floor.
She gasps, a thick noise comes out of her throat and she doubles over, grabbing her stomach, then she screams. Looking surprised and still clutching her stomach, she vomits will staggering backwards, collapsing onto the bathroom floor. There are strands of tissue hanging out of her.
- I'm Christian Bale", Russel, says, taking [her hand].
"Oh right," she says. "Yeah, I thought I recognized you. You're the actor.
- The stars are real.
The future is that mountain.
Lunar Park (2005)
- You do an awfully good impression of yourself.
- And now the missing Boy Scout inevitably provoked the flicker of worry I experienced every morning before Robby and Sarah went off to school, especially if the hangover was bad or I'd had too much coffee. This wide-awake nightmare lasted no more than thirty seconds, a rapid montage that nonetheless required a Klonopin: a rampage at the school, "I'm so scared" being whispered over the cell phone, what sounds like firecrackers popping off in the background, the ricocheting bullet that hurls the second-grader to the floor,the random firing in the library, the blood sprayed over an unfinished exam, the red pools of it forming on the linoleum, the desk spattered with viscera, a wounded teacher ushering dazed children out of the cafeteria, the custodian shot in the back, the girl murmuring "I think I've been hit" before she faints, the CNN vans arriving, the stuttering sheriff at the emergency press conference, the bulletins flashing on TV screens, the "concerned" anchorman offering updates, the helicopters hovering, the final moments when the gunman places the Magnum in his mouth, the overcrowded hospital emergency rooms and the gymnasiums transformed into makeshift morgues, the yellow crime tape ribboned around an entire playground - and then, in the aftermath: the .22 rifle missing from the stepfather's cabinet, the journal recounting the boy's rejection and despair, a boy who took the teasing hard, the boy who had nothing to lose, the Elavil that didn't take hold orthe bipolar disorder not detected, the book on witchcraft found beneath the bed, the X carved into his chest and the attempted suicide the month before, the broken hand from punching a wall, the nights lying in bed counting to a thousand, the pet rabbit found later that afternoon hanged from a hook in a small closet - and, finally, the closing images of the endless coverage: the flag at half-staff, the memorial services, the hundreds of bouquets and candles and toys that filled the steps leading up to the school, the bloody hand of a victim on the cover of Newsweek, the questions asked, the simple shrugs, the civil suits filed, the copycats, the reasons you quit praying. Still, the worst news comes out of your own child's mouth: "But he was normal, Dad - he was just like me."
- "I hear today's college women are 'prodigious.'"
"Prodigious? Is that what you heard?"
"Well, I read it in a magazine. It was something I wanted to believe."
"The Jayster. Always a dreamer."
- That doesn't sound like...the Jayster.
About Bret Easton Ellis
- A case could be made for Mr. Ellis as a covert moralist and closet sentimentalist, the best kind, the kind who leaves you space in which to respond as your predispositions nudge you, whether as a commissar or hand-wringer or, like me, as an admirer of his intelligence and craft.
- George Stade, The New York Times Book Review.