Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Review: Lunar Park


Lunar Park has somehow dodged the notoriety and controversy that follows Bret Easton Ellis, so unlike American Psycho and Glamarama I knew very little about this book other than what the  book cover blurb told me. The blurb describes the novel as an autobiographical work, taking place after the rise of Ellis's literary career where he has moved to the "suburban hinterlands" with his new family.

The first chapter (the beginnings) recaps his rise from university student to literary star, and while it is littered with actual details (a cameo by friend and fellow author Jay McInerney) of Ellis's life, the obvious jump from biography to fiction after that chapter causes a sense of doubt over every word read previously. Is anything you read true, or is everything (bar his name and previous novel details) invented purely for this novel? Perhaps he is simply creating this confusion so as to finally tell the truth about his notorious and highly publicised past. 

Lunar Park is Ellis's homage to Stephen King, an author he read and loved as a child, and while this form of horror is new to Ellis (and it shows) I really have to commend his effort here. Horror, like many other genres, is often passed off as being 'easy' to write but you only have to read the hundreds of bad horror novels out there to know that succeeding in this genre is harder than it looks. Ellis isn't completely successful but I will admit that I was on the edge of my seat for much of the novel. Because of the ambiguity of the novel's content the direction was always unclear and left me unable to predict what would happen next. My inability to grasp hold of this left me wide open for the horror twists and turns in the story which otherwise may have fallen short.

But his real success, at least in my opinion, is his way of blending the horror component of the story with his unique writing style. I don't like to search out subtext and metaphor (unless the book is for an assignment) but you don't have to in this book. The story raises all sorts of questions about family obligation and relationships, but more interestingly it questions the responsibility of the author and the delicate line the teeters between fact and fiction. So I suppose you could say it is horror for the literary types, the 'monster' certainly isn't the zombie, vampire or possessed industrial machine that surface so often between the pages of a horror novel.

I'm sorry if this has appeared vague but I truly don't want to spoil the story by giving anything away because I seriously think I enjoyed this book so much more because I had absolutely no idea what the story was about! As it is I've probably given it away by telling you it isn't an autobiography, hopefully you can still enjoy it though.


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