I ran across this book in Borders and was instantly intrigued. I have heard of some of the recent praise for Ellis’s work so the idea of reading his first book, written when he was 19, was a compelling one.
This book gives the reader a feel for a group of people in a certain place at a certain time. It doesn’t have a wealth of character development, or a traditional plot, but rather immerses the reader in this environment. The environment in this case is filled with drugs, bisexual encounters, pimps, dead bodies, snuff films, and worse. You get the impression that the people in this environment don’t even realize the absurdity of what they are doing, or really have any feelings at all. The protagonist is the one person who starts to realize the insanity of what is going on, as each encounter gets darker and worse. Throughout the story the protagonist is also trying to work out his relationship with his ex-girlfriend, but this part of the plot is more symbolic about the protagonist’s reluctance to go back to this city and lifestyle, and less about an actual human relationship.
Overall I enjoyed the book as much as you can enjoy a book about such dark things. This book doesn’t try to answer the question of whether humans do evil things because of internal evil (original sin) or because of the influences of soceity (naturalism) but rather just shows how messed up things can be and sometimes are.