I feel completely mind fucked and I didn't even get a kiss! Such is the worlds that Bret Easton Ellis creates and "Glamorama" is no exception. From the book cover:
"The center of the world: 1990's Manhattan. Victor Ward, a model with perfect abs and all the right friends, is seen and photographed everywhere, even in places he hasn't been and with people he doesn't know. He's living with one beautiful model and having an affair with another on the eve of opening the trendiest nightclub in New York history. And now it's time to move to the next stage. But the future he gets is not the one he had in mind.
With the same deft satire and savage wit he has brought to his previous fiction, Bret Easton Ellis gets beyond the facade and introduces us, unsparingly, to what we always feared was behind it. Glamorama shows us a shadowy looking-glass reality, the juncture where fame and fashion and terror and mayhem meet and then begin to resemble the familiar surface of our lives."
I really wanted to like this novel, especially since I've become quite a fan of Ellis' work this year. "Glamorama" is to the 90's what "American Psycho" was to the 80's, in this case, a satire of the celebrity culture. Victor Ward is the typical Ellis "hero." The current "it boy" in modeling, he's vapid, shallow, and a slave to his culture worship. The story is told from Victor's perspective and he's constantly describing in detail what celebrity was at what party, what they were wearing, and what was playing. Another over the top style of Ellis' to convey that name dropping and brand labeling is more important to a lot of his characters than substance. Indeed, I've heard it said that much of the book reads like articles out of Page Six from the New York Post.
Victor's life takes a turn after a night opening a New York nightclub goes awry. He finds himself in London and then later Paris, sucked into an international terrorism plot he can't escape, perpetrated by models/celebrities. I know it sounds bizarre but the way the story eases into the final premise, it can be swallowed, but barely. For the last two thirds of the book, the narrative takes a different tone as though Victor is shooting a film (being followed around by what I could only guess was an imaginary film crew that he often directly addresses). He provides intense detail to each "scene" as well as a soundtrack of popular songs at the time. I was left wondering many times if Victor was losing his mind. There is also quite a bit of violence and sexual content that, again true to Ellis' style, borders on pornographic.
As I said earlier, I really wanted to like this novel more than I did. At times I either wanted to throw the book across the room or was unable to put it down over the stretch of about 150 pages in the middle third. The narrative has all the charm typical of Ellis' writing, mistaken identity, attention to detail, hilarious dialogue between characters, and a dark, satirical humor. The story was a little over the top and borders on absolutely schizophrenic near the end. The novel is far too long in what it accomplishes (over 500 pages) and finishes too unresolved for my tastes. Not recommended unless you're a fan of Bret Easton Ellis.
"The better you look the more you see."