Ellis, author of American Psycho, veers into the metafictional and post-modernist realm, in this purportedly true story of the novelist Bret Easton Ellis finding himself and his family facing a variety of seemingly supernatural and formerly-fictional threats. The writer seems to be aiming for the ‘peril in the suburban home’ angle here, with interesting touches such as a man who may or may not be the embodiment of various characters from his earlier novels.
All quite ripe and interesting ideas, but in all honesty it just didn’t gel for me, and I gave up just over halfway through; the ‘author’ comes over as a pretty hopeless case, popping pills and drinking constantly whilst trying to cheat on his wife, and the sense of mounting danger as Ellis finds elements of his past and his writings stalking him is frankly lacking – often the narrative talks about a sense of dread which I, the reader, simply didn’t share. The back cover (well, of the hardback anyway) displays a single statement that it all actually happened, but it rings as true as the similar paragraph at the start of Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code’ – ie not at all.
If you want to read a story about an author being haunted by his own inventions, you could do much worse than read Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Half’, which does this so much better. In all honesty, and working purely on memory, I think that the film ‘Wes Craven’s New Nightmare’ deals with this idea better as well, and I didn’t feel that film really hit all its targets.
On a more positive note, the author’s comments about his own previous writings are interesting (even if they might be just as untrue as the rest of the book), and there’s some good commentary on suburbia, with all the kids at the local school having various forms of therapy and popping Ritalin tablets as if they’re Smarties. At least, I hope this aspect of it is satire, if it’s an accurate depiction of life in the USA’s suburban areas, that’s far more frightening than anything else in the book.
So, I didn’t care for it, and gave up on it (moderately rare for me with a book, but I realised I didn’t care, and that the idea of reading something else was very appealing). You might well feel differently, but I’m glad this was a library copy.