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Bret Easton Ellis (born March 7, 1964 in Los Angeles, Californiamarker) is an American novelist and short story writer. He was regarded as one of the so-called literary Brat Pack, which also included Tama Janowitz and Jay McInerney. He is a self-proclaimed "moralist." Ellis employs a technique of linking novels with common, recurring characters.


He was born March 7, 1964 in Los Angeles and raised in Sherman Oaksmarker in the San Fernando Valleymarker, the son of Robert Martin Ellis, a wealthy property developer, and Dale Ellis, a homemaker. His parents divorced in 1982. He was educated at The Buckley School, where he did not distinguish himself; then he took a music-based course at Bennington College in Vermontmarker, which is thinly disguised as Camden College in all of his novels. He was a part-time musician in 1980s bands such as The Parents before his first book was published.

Less Than Zero, a tale of disaffected, rich teenagers of Los Angeles, was praised by critics and sold well (50,000 copies in its first year). He moved to New York City in 1987 for the publication of his second novel. His second published work, The Rules of Attraction, follows a group of sexually promiscuous college students, and sold fairly well, though Ellis admits he felt he had "fallen off", after the novel failed to match the success of his debut effort. The novel introduced Patrick Bateman, who would become the principal character of his controversial third novel. His most controversial work, the graphically violent novel American Psycho, was intended to be published by Simon & Schuster, but they withdrew after external protests from groups such as the NOW and many others due to the alleged misogynistic nature of the book. The novel was later published by Vintage. Some consider this novel, whose protagonist, Patrick Bateman, is both a cartoonishly materialistic yuppie and a serial killer, to be an example of transgressive art. American Psycho has achieved considerable cult status.

His collection of short stories, The Informers, was released in 1994, while his publishers waited on the promised fourth novel. It contains vignettes of wayward Los Angeles characters ranging from rock stars to vampires, mostly written while Ellis was in college, and so has more in common with the style of Less Than Zero. After years of struggling with it, Ellis released his fourth novel Glamorama in 1998. Glamorama is set in the world of high fashion, following a male model who becomes entangled in a bizarre terrorist organization composed entirely of other models. The book plays with themes of media, celebrity, and political violence, and like its predecessor American Psycho it uses surrealism to convey a sense of postmodern dread. The author's most recent novel is Lunar Park (2005), which uses the form of a celebrity memoir to tell a ghost story about the novelist "Bret Easton Ellis" and his chilling experiences in the apparently-haunted home he shares with his wife and son. In keeping with his usual style, Ellis mixes absurd comedy with a bleak and violent vision. Critical reaction to the novel was mostly positive, with many critics endeared by the tones of wistfulness and sentimentality Ellis had achieved.

Personal life

When asked an interview in 2002 whether or not he was gay, Ellis explained that he does not identify himself as gay or straight. He explained that he is comfortable to be thought of as gay, bisexual or heterosexual and that he enjoys playing with his persona, identifying variously as gay, straight and bi to different people over the years. In his semi-autobiographical novel Lunar Park, the fictional Bret continues both transient affairs and long-term relationships with men and women at various points in the novel.

In August 2005, Ellis told The New York Times that his best friend and lover for six years, Michael Wade Kaplan, died in January 2004, at the age of 30. In the article entitled, "Bret Easton Ellis: The Man in the Mirror", Ellis explains that Kaplan had been his partner for six years before dying at age thirty. He described their partnership as being a "very loose kind" and "not particularly conventional" as "neither one of us was interested in the lifestyle." Kaplan's death came very soon after a trip Ellis took to spend time with his mother and sisters, having planned to spend a few months finishing the final draft of Lunar Park, before returning to New York. Kaplan's death left Ellis bereft and experiencing what he describes as "a midlife crisis" which acted as a "big catalyst" in helping Ellis finish Lunar Park, adding "a new layer of wistfulness and melancholy to the writing" that had not been there before."

Lunar Park was dedicated to Michael Wade Kaplan and Ellis's father, Robert Ellis, about whom he speaks openly in interviews promoting the novel. Robert Ellis died in 1992. In one interview, Ellis describes feeling liberated by completing the novel which allowed him to come to terms with a lot of the unresolved issues he had towards his father. In his author Q&A on the Random House website, Ellis comments on his relationship with his father. Ellis feels that his father was a "tough case" who left him with a lot of damage. Having gotten older and having "mellow[ed] out", Ellis describes how his opinion of his father changed since 15 years ago when writing Glamorama (in which the central conspiracy concerns the relationship of a father and son). Even earlier in his career, Ellis based the character of Patrick Bateman from American Psycho on his father.



Less Than Zero was adapted into a film in 1987, directed by Marek Kanievska and starring Andrew McCarthy, Robert Downey Jr and Jami Gertz.

American Psycho was filmed in 2000, directed by Mary Harron and starring Christian Bale.

The Rules of Attraction was filmed in 2002, directed by Roger Avary and starring James Van Der Beek and Shannyn Sossamon.

A film based on Glamorama was set for a 2007 release, again directed by Avary, but has been delayed for unknown reasons.

Additionally, there is a film called Glitterati made from additional footage that was filmed for "The Rules of Attraction."

A film about Ellis, titled This Is Not an Exit: The Fictional World of Bret Easton Ellis, was made in 2000. The film is a combination of a documentary on his life as well as dramatizations of scenes from his books.

An adaptation of the collection of short stories The Informers by Ellis premeried at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2009. Directed by Gregor Jordan, script written by Ellis and Nicholas Jarecki, featuring Kim Basinger, Winona Ryder, Amber Heard, Billy Bob Thornton and the late Brad Renfro.

He recently wrote the screenplay for a film titled The Frog King which is set to start filming with Joseph Gordon-Levitt starring.

His latest novel, Lunar Park, is being made into a movie looking towards a 2009 release date. It was adapted into a screenplay by Lane Shadgett.

Recurring characters

Ellis often uses recurring characters and settings. Major characters in one novel may become minor ones in the next, or vice versa. Camden College, a fictional New Englandmarker liberal arts college, is frequently referenced. It is based on Bennington College, which Ellis himself attended, where he met and befriended fellow writer Donna Tartt.

  • Less Than Zero - Camden is referred to several times, and both Clay, the novel's protagonist and narrator, and Daniel, are said to be attending it.

  • The Rules of Attraction - Clay appears as a minor character and narrates one chapter. He is referred to as "The Guy from L.A." before being properly introduced. Main character Sean Bateman is the younger brother of Patrick Bateman, who will later become the protagonist of American Psycho. Patrick appears briefly and narrates one chapter. Camden is the main setting of the novel. Additionally, the creations of Ellis' friend and fellow author Donna Tartt's 1992 novel The Secret History are referenced in the form of a passing mention of "that weird Classics group (and they're probably roaming the countryside sacrificing farmers and performing pagan rituals)". On "the guy from L.A.'s" door someone wrote "Rest In Peace Called"; R.I.P., or Rip, is Clay's dealer in Less Than Zero, also Clay says that Blair from Less than Zero sent him a letter saying she thinks Rip was murdered.

  • American Psycho - Sean Bateman appears briefly. Paul from The Rules of Attraction is mentioned, as well as Victor Ward. Camden is referred to as both Sean's college and the college a minor character named Vanden is going to. Vanden was referred to (but never appeared) in Less Than Zero as well as The Rules of Attraction. Certain passages from "Less Than Zero" reappear, almost verbatim, here, with Patrick replacing Clay as narrator. Patrick makes repeated references to Jami Gertz, the actress who portrays Blair in the film adaptation of Less Than Zero. Scott and Ann or Anne Smiley have "California Classic Cuisine" at Deck Chairs with Patrick and Courtney.

  • The Informers - Chapter 3: The son of one of the many narrators in the book The Informers, Graham, buys concert tickets from Julian, a character from Less Than Zero. The daughter of the narrator, Susan, goes on to say that Julian sells heroin and is a male prostitute, which is true. Graham refutes the claim that Julian is a male prostitute. In this chapter, Susan also hangs out with Alana and Blair, characters from Less Than Zero.

  • The Informers - The son of the narrator of Chapter 4, "In the Islands" is Timothy Price, an acquaintance/friend of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.

  • The Informers - Chapter 8 consists solely of letters written to Sean Bateman, of The Rules of Attraction, by a girl named Anne who leaves Camden to visit her grandparents in L.A. The letters never reveal Sean's last name, but they reference one of his catch phrases: "Deal with it." The letters are also never replied to. This is evident from the way Anne begs for a reply during each letter.

  • Glamorama - Patrick Bateman appears briefly, as do the main characters Victor Ward and Lauren Hynde who were first introduced in The Rules of Attraction. Jamie Fields, who has a major role in the book, was first briefly mentioned by Victor in "The Rules of Attraction", though she is only referred to and doesn't otherwise appear in the book. Bertrand, Sean and Mitchell, all from The Rules of Attraction, appear in a Camden flashback and several other Rules characters are referenced. Alison Poole, a minor character from American Psycho, in fact first appeared as the protagonist of fellow literary Brat Pack member Jay McInerney's 1988 novel Story of My Life. Both Jay and Allison make return appearances in Lunar Park.

  • Lunar Park - All the author's previous works are heavily referenced, in keeping with the book-within-a-book structure. Jay McInerney has a cameo role, attending the Halloween party Bret hosts at his house with Jayne Dennis. Donald Kimball from American Psycho questions Ellis on a series of American Psycho-inspired murders, Mitchell Allen from The Rules of Attraction lives next door to and went to college with Ellis (and Ellis recalls his affair with Paul Denton), and Ellis recalls a tempestuous relationship with Blair, Clay's girlfriend from Less Than Zero.

In popular culture

On Bloc Party's 2007 album A Weekend in the City, the opening track, "Song for Clay (Disappear Here)", is based on the main character from Ellis's novel Less Than Zero. The parenthesised part of the title refers to the billboard that Clay drives past in the book.

An album by Porcupine Tree, Fear of a Blank Planet, was largely inspired by Ellis' novel, Lunar Park. While the novel is told from the father's point of view, the record is mostly from the son's point of view, although "My Ashes" reflects the regrets of the son's dead grandfather as they scatter his ashes, referencing the scene at the end of Lunar Park.

Eminem's group D12 have two songs called 'American Psycho' and 'American Psycho 2'.

The Misfits have a song called American Psycho off their 1997 album American Psycho. The song is written about Patrick Bateman and references the story many times.

Canadian rockers treblecharger have a song called American Psycho.

Bret Easton Ellis is mentioned in the songs "Obsessions" by the UK band Suede and "The Booklovers" by the Northern Irish band The Divine Comedy (which also could be a reference to Ellis phrase 'This is not an exit' (American Psycho) taken from the book by Dante Alighieris - La Divina Commedia, Hell - Song III)

A character in Tao Lin's 2009 novella, Shoplifting from American Apparel, is said to be reading "a Bret Easton Ellis novel" while on a bus to Atlantic City.

Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers wrote a song about the character Patrick Bateman entitled 'Patrick Bateman'. The song was featured on the B-side of their single La Tristesse Durera released July 26, 1993. The song gained a small amount of notoriety for the line 'I fucked God up the ass'.

In the television series Dexter, the main character uses Patrick Bateman as an alias.

In The Simpsons episode "Brother Can You Spare Two Dimes" Uncle Herb gives "The Great Books of Western Civilization" to Lisa as a present. She would receive Ethan Frome first and the rest through installments, ending in Less Than Zero.

The mixed martial arts fighter Stephan Bonnar is nicknamed the "American Psycho" due to his clean cut facial features and resemblance to Patrick Bateman.

The 2009 Australia film The Beautiful and Damned directed by Richard Wolstencroft, and based on the famous novel by F.Scott Fitzgerald is dedicated to Ellis.

Portuguese metal band Moonspell named a track in their 1999 album The Butterfly Effect "Disappear Here", having its lyrics inspired by the novel Less Than Zero.

San Marcos, TXmarker band The Patrick Bateman Experience take their name from the anti-hero of American Psycho. The majority of their songs and lyrical content are references to Ellis' work.

Bryan Metro, the vocalist for the Detroit, MImarker electronic garage band The Jesus Chainsaw Massacre takes his stage name from the character of the same name in The Informers.

Toledo, OH band HIGHLAND reference many of the themes presented in Rules of Attraction in their 2006 song "Ode To Ellis" including a constant theme of "recreational drugs and casual sex leading to one's confusing distorted vision of what true love is."

Connecticut hardcore band Bateman is named for the anti-hero of American Psycho.

Electronic Pop / Screamo band Breathe Carolina has a song called "I Have To Return Some Video Tapes" on their album "Hello Fascination". This is a reference to the famous quote by Bateman in American Psycho.

Composer John Zorn's band Naked City has a track called "American Psycho" as the final song of their 1993 album "Radio".

See also


  2. An Interview with Porcupine Tree // Planet-Loud Dot Com

External links

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