am 30. August 2005
Glamorama is a really remarkable novel in more than one way, and I enjoyed reading the other reviews, because they add to my understanding and perspective, still.
Whether you see it as a "deep study about shallowness" or find it shallow in dealing with serious problems, you might be right, depending on what you personally expect from literature.
For me, it was fun to read, it was irritating and the use of language intrigued me.
I like the the irritation of perception, and I cannot see any use in criticising the author for a book that is not written to morally "better" its readers. Thankfully this attitude has changed somewhat from the time when e.g. American Psycho was released; it must have been a horrible thing to be called a psycho killer, just because you wrote about one in 1rst person narrative.
Victor -as a representative of the "modern" lost man/boy- is basically an "immoral" ,- I am not saying that he is *bad*- character in a corresponding environment. He reacts to moral dilemmas in a reflex-kind of way: he doesn't really FEEL it.
As a consequence, everything he does, he does half-heartedly.
Someone said the book starts where American Psycho ended. I don't know if it is true, but it is an interesting point of view: Patrick Bateman is actively "evil", he kills people because he can. Victor Ward is totally passive, he is portrayed to be dumb, naïve, hostage to his superficial needs.
Things happen to him, he only adds to "the plot" through going along, being indecisive, cowardish, on drugs, etc.
Both, Bateman and Ward, show a complete lack of morals, but Victor seems to vaguely miss them. Victor is totally (he'd probably say) "gamma-ish" in his emotional development, like everybody in his world. Criteria have switched from inside to outside, and wether it is brains -like in Brave New World- or looks ("The better you look the more you see"), it is just as bad. And the people who have both are the most dangerous - an army of Batemans?
Everything is so strange, unstoppable, out of Victor's reach and comprehension, the rules are without meaning. What Victor craves besides drugs, sex and music -the only way to experience anything remotely emotional- has nothing to do with reality, either: he wants to be famous.
Victor is in a constant "who-cares, I am a looser, baby, so why don't you kill me"-mode, yet very frightened. That's where the drugs come in again. And that is also where he never gets the chance to deal with anything.
It is interesting to see him develop at a rate of something close to turtlespeed, whereas the world around seems to be turning faster and faster. And makes him spin "like a record, baby - round, round, round round..." By the way, I loved this, his only skill - quoting from songs instead of answering questions- so much that I could never really "abandon" him.
May anything have helped ? The person "Victor", does it exist?
Victor is outside a world and a time where Right and Wrong still were valuable - accepted and internalized. Has the "individual" ceased to exist, not only in modern philosophy? Do people like Victor exist?
- The point may be: do we care.
am 21. Januar 2003
Well I am actually more a "mainstream reader" but this is a real masterpiece which makes you think about your own existence and its purpose.
Follow the anti-hero Victor an almost celebrity into a crazy world of models, drugs, sex and crime and discover the real values of mankind after a long and hard struggle. But don't expect a happy end.
I first thought it strange but then I got hooked and suffered with Victor. I highly recommend this book even if you are not so much into modern literature. It's worth a try.
am 21. Juli 2000
when you nor I nor these kings did not exist." I wonder how many people caught that. I'm not sure if Ellis did himself.
It seems that Ellis is divided between being astute chronicler and outraged moralizer. His analytical, indifferent mind and sensitive bleeding heart are in conflict. In the end, I believe he chooses to be the moralist. And that's a disappointment. Because he's well aware that what he's writing about is NOT novel. Our society is not "sliding down the surface of things" into a cess pool of sex, violence, drugs, and celebrity worship. We've always been in that cess pool from day one.
But at times, he seems to be aware of all the implications of what he writes, including the implication of his own place in all of this:
"'But Bobby I'm not...political,' I blurt out vaguely.
'Everyone is, Victor,' Bobby says, turning away again. 'It's something you can't help.'...
...'We're killing civilians,' I whisper.
'Twenty-five thousand homicides were committed in our country last year, Victor.'
'But...I didn't commit any of them, Bobby'
Bobby smiles patiently, making his way back to where I'm sitting. I look at him hopefully.
'Is it so much better to be uninvolved, Victor?'
'Yes,' I whisper. 'I think it is.'
'Everyone's involved,' he whispers back. 'That's something you need to know.'" (p.315)
Everyone's involved. And that's something you need to know. There is no high perch where we can look down upon all that we find morally repulsive and criticize it without indicting ourselves. That's the way it is. And any moralizing is just contained within it.
But Ellis is also well aware of where all this will eventually take us: to a horrifically beautiful orgasmic cataclysm of severed limbs, fanning blood, genital fluid, People magazines, Gucci bags, Prada suits, and a stale cold wind blowing over all of it. To a "champagne supernova in the sky" where the only question to ask all those who are morally disgruntled and shocked and to those who chose to blind themselves with illusion about this outcome will be, "Where were you while we we're getting high?"
am 19. April 2001
nach american psycho, das mich einige urlaubstage lang wirklich gefesselt hat, war ich dann doch gespannt auch das nächste B.E.Ellis- Buch. glamorama ist auf jeden fall nett zu lesen, wird aber nie ein klassiker, da meiner meinung nach die gewisse intensität fehlt, die sich durch american psycho zieht. trotzdem hat es mir auch diesmal spass gemacht mir ein bild von der Model-society in New York zu machen. die Spitzen auf im Buch genannte "Berühmtheiten" haben mir auch gut gefallen. alles in allem: oberes mittelfeld
am 29. Oktober 1999
It was hard for me to admit, after finishing "Glamorama," but Ellis is one of the most original satirists we have working today. Hard because I used to buy the criticism about his trendiness, the endless pop-culture references masking a lack of vision. Not so: in fact, one great irony of our ironic fin-de-siecle culture is that so many critics fail to recognize real irony! Folks, the vapidity and the inconsistency of the pop culture cataloging is done deliberately--deliberately--to invoke a sense of the impermanence and interchangeablity. I've read the hacks who think pop culture references are substitutes for cultural commentary; hell, most of them write for magazines, TV and Hollywood. Ellis, if you're willing to cut him the slack you'd cut any other writer who isn't Ellis, is cut from a different and classically American jib. His is a moral satire akin to some of the works of Hawthorne, West, even Fitzgerald. The use of surrealism in this work is probably it's shakiest premise because it asks you, de facto, to surrender your need for clear cut reality; this really is nothing new in writing. Glamorama works when you accept its surrealism instead of working against it. Why people work so hard to put this writer down, especially after the knee-jerk reaction to the underrated American Psycho (a very funny book!), is not hard to see. They mistake the writer for the soulless, vapid yuppie partyboys of his novels. Here's the news: Ellis is really one of the most talented and traditional writers working today. He deserves at least a little credit.
am 30. Juli 1999
I just finished "Glamorama" a couple of days ago, and I'm still debating to which side of the debate raging here and elsewhere I should lean - is it utter drivel or a work of genius? There are plenty of arguments for either: yes, it often seems like a luke-warm rehash of "American Psycho" - there's the deluded, shallow, drugged-up, and possibly schizophrenic protagonist, there are the acts of unspeakable horror perpetrated by the least likely candidates, and so on. Yes, the graphic sex and violence seem completely gratuitous on occasion as they neither serve the advance of the plot nor to drive home a defined moral point, as is the case in other Ellis novels. And yes, the recurring themes (the cold, the physical numbness, the smell of sh**, the confetti, the camera crews) somehow fail to be satisfactorily resolved. And any book published this close to 2000 will bear the dreaded "millenial angst" stigma.
On the other hand, Ellis has retained his mastery of microscopic analysis and his grim sense of satire, and consequently pursues both with little regard for the subject matter at hand (and little mercy for the reader) - be it a party or a torture scene. And just as Victor might quite possibly be very deliberately deluding his environment as to his real role and personality, the narrative itself might be deliberately confusing, echoing the insanity of a society obsessed with vacuity, glamour, sex, drugs (mostly prescription, oddly enough) and violence. The message is clear - keep watching MTV, buy cool stuff, party on, but don't be surprised if you get your a** blown off in the process, baby, because the surreal is what's real...
But ultimately, the main criticism I have is that he has tried to squeeze too many ideas into this novel, which make it lack focus, giving the impression that, like its protagonist, it's too doped-up on Xanax and Halcyon to be able to properly concentrate on anything. Many of Glamorama's themes have been treated more exhaustively elsewhere - for the dissolution of the individual and terrorism-as-media-event you can do worse than read Don DeLillo, and for the dangers of digital media manipulation, read Michael Larsen's "Uncertainty". Any criticisms of absence of plot could be countered with the fact that Ellis, amidst the swirling chaos, usually keeps a very tight rein on his narratives, so he has, as far as I'm concerned, the benefit of the doubt on this one.
Maybe a re-read can clarify things, but the incentive to do so isn't very great right now, and as the novel is so topical that it comes with a use-by date, a re-reading in a year's time might just make it look dated. So, while "Glamorama" certainly isn't a bad novel, and even has moments of true genius, Mr Ellis has been better.
am 30. Dezember 1998
You start this book and think, "more of the same old Ellis." Now I'm essentially a fan of Mr. Ellis. I'm not one of the ill-informed crackpots raving on endlessly about American Psycho being the greatest book of all time. I liked it. I wrote a review for it here. But let's admit--it has a lot of problems with plotting and the overall writing. This book, however, is the first of his novels that appears to have been slaved over. It is the same, yet different (a theme present within this dark fantasy.) The characters are more human, less the yuppie automotons, and moreso just despicable, self-absorbed semi-celebrities who have no self-control, no real talent, and, ultimately, no confidence in anything they do, regardless of how blustery and obnoxious they can get. There is a lot happening in Glamorama. It is composed mostly of dialogue, and the narrative itself is a questionable first person, something that really is an extention of the remarkable, tape-recorder accuracy of how people such as this speak. This is probably Ellis' best book. It grows leaps and bounds chapter after chapter as you get more and more absorbed in the horror being played out before you on the page. There is maturity here, perhaps indicating that Ellis is finally growing past his early success and popularity, rattling off the fame all contraversy causes, and realizing that he is, finally, a writer.
am 16. Mai 2000
Glamorama is Ellis's fifth novel and his most daring achievement thus far. The novel starts off in Manhattan, the time is 1990s, and the main character is Victor Ward. Victor is a supermodel, the IT boy for the moment, who is a womanizer, a would-be actor and musician, and overall man-about-town. He is about to open a very trendy nightclub but things don't go as Victor plans. Through a variety of circumstances Victor is plunged into a world of violence, conspiracy, and international terrorism. By the end of the novel Victor and the reader is left in a profoundly different mind set compared to the beginning of the book. One of the strengths of this book is Ellis's keen ear for dialogue. Victor's speech has a crsip flow that is well crafted by Ellis. In the novel Ellis gives us a surreal atmosphere with poetic and disturbing descriptions. I can honestly say that I will never look at a pool party the same way after reading the segment of how Victor meets his girlfriend Chloe. His characters run the gambit of either being hip or sad or funny or extremely dangerous. Eight years in the making, and it shows, Ellis had given the world a modern day masterpiece that will be read a hundred years from now.
am 26. Juli 2002
The last thing I expected after the first pages was an ex-supermodel world conspiracy with its moles, deceptions and killings. I liked those bits a lot because they kept the suspense up so that I kept on reading.
There were, however, those lenghty bits where Victor goes to parties, openings and the like, and there the narrative lies dead in the water. What is all this name-dropping and high-powered beauty pageant stuff about? Could it be any shorter? I grew tired of yet another glam event, and the book lost a lot of focus that way.
Or was I supposed to grow restless? Did I have to feel the almost physical boredom of standing around and look nice without anything to say? Is it really a Semtex attack on our superficialities?
The truth is, I am not sure. Maybe there is a crucial scene I didn't get, and the whole text does not make sense. Maybe there is no sense, and maybe the point is to think about the lack of sense of the novel. But that, for me, is the case with American Psycho: how far are you prepared to go? And what's your reason for doing so?
I am not sure Glamorama does this, too. I think the text gradually invites you to be read on different levels that can change very rapidly. I liked the book on the conspiracy level, but the celeb party bits were just fillers for me.
am 30. Juni 2000
Bret Easton Ellis has done a remarkable job of selling the same book again and again and again, and "Glamorama" is the latest incarnation of his single story. Name dropping, pop-culture references, drugs, and sex. Ellis claims that "Glamorama" is his first book with a plot, but I couldn't identify one.
What makes "Glamorama" different from previous BEE novels? He tries even harder to be shocking. He has more graphic sex and more violence than I remember in previous novels. Now that such things are prevalent in "bestsellers," however, they lose what little impact they had in "American Psycho" (or earlier).
Victor, the latest incarnation of the troubled Ellis protagonist, is undeveloped and has few qualities that draw one to him as a reader. To the author's credit, Victor is his first protagonist to actually undergo a change, but that matters little when one doesn't care about the character in the first place.
Ellis does have a different style that can be entertaining. But without substance, style isn't enough to warrant reading a book (unless the style is truly revolutionary, which his is not).
If you have to read a BEE novel, make it "American Psycho" or "Less Than Zero." Neither are terribly good, but they're both better than his latest effort. I feel like I wasted 3 hours of my life on "Glamorama."
Better still, skip Ellis entirely and read an author who actually has some literary merit.