Less Than Zero
Author: Bret Easton Ellis
Publisher: Vintage Books
Publication Date: June 9th 2012
First Published in 1985
Set in Los Angeles in the early 1980's, this coolly mesmerizing novel is a raw, powerful portrait of a lost generation who have experienced sex, drugs, and disaffection at too early an age, in a world shaped by casual nihilism, passivity, and too much money a place devoid of feeling or hope.
Clay comes home for Christmas vacation from his Eastern college and re-enters a landscape of limitless privilege and absolute moral entropy, where everyone drives Porches, dines at Spago, and snorts mountains of cocaine. He tries to renew feelings for his girlfriend, Blair, and for his best friend from high school, Julian, who is careering into hustling and heroin. Clay's holiday turns into a dizzying spiral of desperation that takes him through the relentless parties in glitzy mansions, seedy bars and underground rock clubs and also into the seamy world of L.A. after dark.
I really love the movie Less Than Zero but had heard that the movie is so different than the book, so I had to read it. Had to.
Less Than Zero is a depressing movie but boy does the book take it to a whole other level. Seriously, it is a dark gritty look into the bored lives of the young and rich. After finishing it I felt dirty.
It was a disturbing read. The setting is early 80's L.A. when cocaine was at it's height especially in the rich and bored over privileged youth. The cast of characters in Less Than Zero are so disassociated from their feelings and their rampant drug use makes anything go. No joke, there is rape of a underage girl, watching of a snuff film and so many other moments that were really shocking. What made it so shocking is that these characters never really blinked an eye about it. They seem shells of people with no concern about anything but themselves and whatever brings them pleasure.
Clay, the protagonist seems tired of what he sees and knows there is something not quite right about him and the people he associates with but can't muster the care he knows he should have. Through his eyes we see a world that is ugly. Clay just seems tired of it all and completely numb to life. A guy who can't make it through dinner with his family without heading to the bathroom to snort coke.
I did like Less Than Zero because of it's rawness and realness (even though I wish it wasn't). But the truth is this shit was happening and is probably still is, just change out cocaine with prescription pills. As I mentioned it was a little shocking to read, I'm from a small town in Texas, so this was not at all like how I grew up.
There is a lot of swearing, sexual situations and ugly parts in Less Than Zero. Just to warn you if that stuff bothers you.
Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars