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literature

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Ellis, Bret Easton (b. 1964)  
 
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Ellis even provides hints that Bateman may be gay. In a chapter entitled "Confronted by a Faggot," Ellis rejects Luis Carruthers, a coworker who is in love with him, while they are shopping at Barney's. But rather than rejecting Carruthers on the grounds that he is not gay, Bateman says, "I . . . don't"--I look around the store quickly to make sure no one is listening; he reaches for my knee, I brush his hand away--"find you . . . sexually attractive."

In "Health Club," Patrick objectifies himself through another man's eyes. "I should probably be stretching first but if I do that I'll have to wait in line--already some faggot is behind me, probably checking out my back, ass, leg muscles."

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And in "Harry's," when Bateman denounces the anti-Semitic remarks of a coworker at Harry's restaurant, Bateman's best friend, Tim Price, calls him "The voice of reason" and "The boy next door." When Bateman challenges the epithets, remarking, "Yeah, a boy next door who, according to you let a British corporate financial analyst intern sodomize him up the ass," Price responds: "I said you were the voice of reason. I didn't say you weren't a homosexual."

American Psycho condemns male vanity and competitiveness, and illustrates how so much in American life--shopping, sex, violence--is flattened out into more or less the same experience. But it was widely misread as misogynist, racist, and .

Simon & Schuster, which paid Ellis a $300,000 advance when it contracted to publish the novel, finally decided not to issue it. American Psycho was published by Vintage instead. A chapter of the National Organization of Women called for a boycott and the novel was frequently denounced as politically incorrect. But it is increasingly recognized as an example of transgressive art and has attracted a cult following.

Film Adaptations

Less Than Zero, The Rules of Attraction, and American Psycho have been adapted for the screen. In interviews, Ellis is respectfully restrained when commenting on Marek Kanievska's watered-down adaptation of Less Than Zero (1987) in which Clayton is made a more palatable hero. (In the novel, the only heroic thing Clayton does is leave Los Angeles.) Ellis is more receptive to Mary Harron's screen version of American Psycho (2000) and is enthusiastic about Roger Avary's The Rules of Attraction (2002).

The film version of American Psycho, which starred art house actor and sex symbol Christian Bale, has achieved such cult status that in 2005 Reel Toys released a Patrick Bateman action figure complete with briefcase, axe, knives, nail gun, etc.

Gerald Fox's documentary This Is Not an Exit: The Fictional World of Bret Easton Ellis (2000) features poorly-acted dramatizations of scenes from Ellis's first four novels and interviews with Ellis and his teachers. In these interviews, Ellis is generally affable and articulate, and especially earnest in defending American Psycho. He appears with his mother, with whom he maintains close ties, as he does with his two sisters.

The Informers

The Informers (1994) is a collection of short stories loosely linked to each other and with Ellis's previous works. Characters from Less Than Zero and The Rules of Attraction make cameo appearances, and we are introduced to several new queer characters.

In "Bruce Calls from Camden," Bruce and an unnamed female narrator in Los Angeles communicate only by phone. They seem to be having a relationship of their own, but Bruce nevertheless details his affairs with another woman and another man.

In "In the Islands," characters around a dinner table discuss Julian, the drug-dealing male hustler who is Clayton's best friend in Less Than Zero.

As in The Rules of Attraction, in these stories Ellis shows that he is comfortable writing in women's voices. Ellis's women are often "young, tan and blond" and have copious amounts of sex, but sometimes they are older women who are perpetually stoned and have copious amounts of sex--or at least fantasies of sex--with younger men. These older women appear so often in Ellis's work that the reader begins to wonder if they may be extensions of his own amorous fantasies.

Glamorama

Like most of Ellis's novels, Glamorama (1998) is narrated by an unreliable hero, in this case Victor, a male model and minor celebrity who claims that, in the midst of moonlighting as a nightclub entrepreneur in New York, he was captured by a ring of terrorists who are ex-models. Ellis's descriptions of sex and drug abuse reach a fever pitch in Glamorama. The reader wonders whether Victor's tales may be delusional.

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