Friday, June 04, 2010

The Rules of Attraction

From the back cover of the novel: "Set at a small, affluent liberal-arts college in New England at the height of the Reagan 80s, 'The Rules of Attraction' is a startlingly funny, kaleidoscopic novel about three students with no plans for the future--or even the present--who become entangled in a curious romantic triangle. Bret Easton Ellis trains his incisive gaze on the kids at self-consciously bohemian Camden College and treats their sexual posturings and agonies with a mixture of acrid hilarity and compassion while exposing the moral vacuum at the center of their lives.

Lauren changes boyfriends every time she changes majors and still pines for Victor who split for Europe months ago and she might or might not be writing anonymous love letter to ambivalent, hard-drinking Sean, a hopeless romantic who only has eyes for Lauren, even if he ends up in bed with half the campus, and Paul, Lauren's ex, forthrightly bisexual and whose passion masks a shrewd pragmatism. They waste time getting wasted, race from Thirsty Thursday Happy Hours to Dressed To Get Screwed parties to drinks at The Edge of the World or The Graveyard. 'The Rules of Attraction' is a poignant, hilarious take on the death of romance."

I really wanted to like my third Bret Easton Ellis novel I've read this year more than I actually did. I enjoyed the writing style very much and the first person perspective of each chapter that was presented by a different character, mainly Lauren Hynde, Sean Bateman, or Paul Denton. It was interesting to see each character describe the same events but with different conclusions as to what really happened or to how people really felt. The novel is much lighter and more humorous than other books by Ellis that I've read and I appreciate that as a nice change.

Given all that I did like about the novel, it was hard for me to overcome the negatives. The actions of the lead characters through the course of a term at Camden become tedious over time. How much class cutting, bed swapping, partying, boozing, and drugging (typical college behavior) can one read about when there isn't a real path to a conclusion other than the end of the term. Definitely the death of romance! Recommended for Ellis fans, others beware.

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