The center of the world: 1990s 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.
The evil twin of fellow brat-packer Jay McInerney's Model Behavior, Ellis's (The Informers) bad trip through glitterary New York has everything his fans (and critics) have come to expect: graphic sex, designer drugs, rock 'n' roll allusions, splatterpunk violence and characters as deep as 8"x10" glossies. Protagonist Victor Ward, a "model-slash-loser," is opening his own trendy Manhattan club while cheating on his supermodel girlfriend and back-stabbing his partner. After some adventures in clubland, the plot takes a turn for the paranoid. Victor is recruited by a mysterious figure, F. Fred Palakon, to track down a former girlfriend gone missing in London. There he becomes unwillingly drawn into a terrorist group�run, like so much else in the novel, by a supermodel�that bombs fashionable hangouts, hotels and jetliners. Throughout, Ellis clutters his hallmark proper-noun realism with excessive name-dropping and strung-out plotting. The satirist in Ellis seems to want to indict celebrity-obsessed, materialistic and superficial contemporary culture. With this novel he, perhaps unwittingly but certainly ironically, provides Exhibit A. 100,000 first printing. (Jan.)
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March 20, 2000
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Excerpt from Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis
We'll slide down the surface of things. . . Old U2 on the stereo and gridlock jams the streets two blocks from the club and I'm not really hearing the things that are being said in the back of the limousine, just words--technobeat, slamming, moonscape, Semtex, nirvana, photogenic--and names of people I know--Jade Jagger, Iman, Andy Garcia, Patsy Kensit, the Goo-Goo Dolls, Galliano--and fleeting pieces of subjects I'm usually interested in--Doc Martens, Chapel Hill, the Kids in the Hall, alien abduction, trampolines--because right now I'm fidgeting with an unlit joint, looking up through the limo's sunroof, spacing on the sweeping patterns spotlights are making on the black buildings above and around us. Baxter and Lauren are sitting across from Chloe and me and I'm undergoing a slow-motion hidden freak-out, focusing on our excruciating progress toward the club while Chloe keeps trying to touch my hand, which I let her do for seconds at a time before I pull away to light one of Baxter's cigarettes or to rewind the U2 tape or to simply touch my forehead, specifically not looking in the direction of Lauren Hynde or how her legs are slightly spread or the way she's staring sadly back at her own reflection in the tinted windows. "We all live in a yellow limousine," Baxter sing-laughs. "A yellow limousine," Chloe sings too, giggling nervously, looking over at me for approval. I give it by nodding at Baxter, who's nodding back, and I'm shuddering.We'll slide down the surface of things. . . Finally we're at the curb in front of the club and the first thing I hear is someone yelling "Action!" and U2's "Even Better Than the Real Thing" starts playing somewhere out of the sky as the driver opens the door and Baxter's checking his hair in Chloe's compact and I toss him my cummerbund. "Just wrap this around your head and look dreamy," I mutter. "You'll be okay." "Victor," Chloe starts. A wave of cold wind sweeps over the crowd standing behind the barricades in front of the club and causes the confetti strewn over the plush purple-and-green carpet leading up to the entrance to dance and swirl around the legs of cops guarding the place and behind the velvet ropes stand three cool Irish guys Damien hired, each of them holding a walkie-talkie and a separate guest list, and on either side of the velvet ropes are huge gangs of photographers and then the head publicist--smiling warmly until she sees Chloe's dress--asks us to wait where we are because Alison, wearing the same Todd Oldham dress Chloe has on, and Damien in a Gucci tuxedo are making their entrance and posing for the paparazzi, but people in the crowd have already noticed Chloe and shout out her name in high, garbled voices. Damien appears unusually tense, his jaw clenching and unclenching itself, and Lauren suddenly grabs my hand and I'm also holding Chloe's and when I look over at Chloe I notice she's holding Baxter's. Damien turns around when he hears people shouting out Chloe's name and he nods at me, then smiles sadly at Lauren, who just mutters something indifferent, and when he sees Chloe's dress he does a hideous double take and tries valiantly to smile back a humongous gag and then he hurriedly ushers Alison into the club even though she's in the middle of taking major advantage of the photo ops, obviously pissed at the interruption, and thankfully Chloe's already too blinded by the flashing cameras to have noticed Alison's dress and I'm making a significant mental note about what should happen once inside: dim all the lights, sweet darling, or the night will be over with. The photographers start shouting out all our names as we move toward the stairs leading up into the club and we linger for the appropriate amount of time--our faces masks, Chloe smiling wanly, Baxter smiling sullenly, Lauren genuinely smiling for the first time tonight, me suff