After the absolutely amazing Lunar Park, Bret Easton Ellis delivers a relatively short read with Imperial Bedrooms, the sequel to Less Than Zero. Let’s say it up front: if you’ve read all of his previous novels already, you have already read this one. It is almost entirely without surprise: perversion, murders, a nightmarish blend of the inner and outer worlds of the narrator and a desperate absence of feelings and empathy are all there.
And it’s a great read as usual. The style hits home. The way the narrator seems to float above his own story owes a lot to how extreme violence is depicted matter-of-factly and how ordinary events like a text message are overloaded with hidden threats and anguish.
The characters are those from Less Than Zero, Ellis’ first novel. They have gotten older with the author but their lives have not changed much. Clay is still an outsider who comes back to LA, only to find emptiness, and the other ones are reproducing much of the patterns they were already exhibiting 25 years ago. They still don’t exist but wish they did.