I wanted to like Bret Easton Ellis’ latest book of essays, titled, for better or for worse, “White.” It has been in my Amazon cart for over a year, despite not being published until a week or so ago. Having reread “American Psycho” recently, I was excited to get my hands on more Bret Easton Ellis social criticism, especially as applied to an age seemingly so ripe for a Patrick Bateman-esque takedown.
Unfortunately, on this matter Bret Easton Ellis decides to punt. I think that is the only way to interpret “White” (or at least the only charitable way; feel free to call him a racist or a misogynist or a troll, the latter being a moniker he would surely take fondly to). Depending on your viewpoint, Easton Ellis went on a wildly successful or legendarily disastrous press tour for “White,” but either way, the literati (or perhaps just the Twitterati, to the extent that those groups remain distinct) was talking about his book, and a quick Google search reveals that it led to more reviews than the late-career reflections of a long-past-relevant author would normally merit. (Imagine if Neil Stephenson, whose “Snow Crash” was arguably more prescient than even “American Psycho,” came out with a memoir. Who would care?)
And yet given this opportunity, Bret Easton Ellis declined to say anything even remotely of interest. Sure, he has a lot of complaints, mostly with the progressive gatekeepers of modern day art and culture, but they are so tired that they could have just as easily come from your grandfather, or from Charlie Kirk’s Twitter feed.
Despite all its discontent with modern day victimhood and grievance culture, “White” features pretty much nothing else, taking only a slight and mildly interesting diversion when he decides to add long-dead David Foster Wallace to his metaphorical funeral pyre. (Easton Ellis’ problem with DFW is sort of all over the place, veering into sensibility only to be derailed when the “White” author admits that he has never read “Infinite Jest.” His gripes with “The End of The Tour,” however, are certainly of merit.)
But the real point of “White” is that Bret Easton Ellis is Mad Online. (So are you, of course, but you didn’t write “American Psycho,” so no one will pay you to type it up.) He is mad that people are mad about Donald Trump. He is mad that Moonlight won the Oscar over La La Land. He is mad that the SJW social media mob went after the author of a Skye Ferreira (who?) magazine profile. He is mad that Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscar for Hurt Locker, but he is even madder about the fact that people are mad at him about it. Make sense? Who cares?
Bret Easton Ellis tries to write himself an escape route, by saying that no matter what your criticisms with his politics (which are virulently anti-anti-Trump), you have to concede that he is an “aesthete.” And if you disagree, well then you are too preoccupied with your “agenda” to care about the true nature of art. This would have perhaps worked if he provided actual proof for his “aesthetic” sensibility besides simply jotting down some sacred cows of the Hollywood Left and saying he disliked them. If you want to read a 250-page example of the straw man fallacy, “White” is currently on sale for just $15 on Amazon.
All of this is a big shame. You never know, but it is unlikely that Bret Easton Ellis will ever be given this much of a cultural platform ever again. In the same month that Robert Downey, Jr. – forever tied in our collective consciousness with Easton Ellis for his Brat Pack work in Less Than Zero – gracefully ended his second act in Avengers: Endgame, the creator of Downey’s Julian character decided not to pursue his own Part Two. Imagine if Downey had said, “Sorry, Kevin Feige, I don’t want to be a part of the MCU, I’m perfectly happy making Shaggy Dog 2 with Tim Allen.” We would forever have Less Than Zero and Chaplin, but no Iron Man, no Avengers, no 22-film Marvel saga. That’s what “White” feels like: Now we are left with Bret Easton Ellis, with “Less Than Zero” and with “American Psycho,” but with nothing remotely interesting on the horizon.
Book Review: ‘The Final Girl Support Group’
Release Date: July 2021
Cozy up on your next snow day and read Gary Hendrix’s The Final Girl Support Group.
Author of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires (2020), Grady Hendrix succeeds again in tapping into our favorite horror films to deliver this mystery. Six young women make up the “Final Girl Support Group.” Each survived horrific massacres that have been turned into successful film franchises. Movies such as Friday The 13th and Halloween actually happened in this version of America. Twenty years later the spotlight has moved on and society has found new monsters and victims. Still, these women sit in a circle of chairs in a church basement trying to figure out how to live their lives. Paranoid Lynnette Tarkington reluctantly participates in group therapy sessions with Dr. Carol Elliot along with fellow survivors Marilyn Torres, who has buried her emotions in wealth; Dani Shipman, who might have killed the wrong person; Julia Campbell, whose encounter left her in a wheelchair; and Heather DeLuca, who is succumbing to addiction. Some of them are in denial about what happened. Some still live in terror, always looking over their shoulders, imprisoned by their own fears.
After one member of this vigilant sisterhood is murdered and a series of persistent attacks threaten the rest, Lynnette becomes increasingly suspicious that the attacks are originating way too close to their inner circle. “Does this ever end?” Lynnette asks. “Will there always be someone out there turning little boys into monsters? Will we always be final girls? Will there always be monsters killing us? How do we stop the snake from eating its own tail?” The book is creepy enough on its face, but Hendrix’s use of narrative tools heightens the unease.
The Final Girl Support Group isn’t necessarily scary, but the plot is action-packed and delivers its share of gore. The novel is an ultimately entertaining and inspiring take on horror movies, trauma, and self-determination. Available on Amazon!
Book Review: ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’
I first read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo this past month after my friend and I swapped our favorite summer books. I opened the book one Saturday morning and couldn’t put it down. Despite the fact that it was published nearly five years ago, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo continues to captivate readers’ interest on BookTok, Bookstagram, and Goodreads.
This story is about renowned Hollywood actress Evelyn Hugo who, after decades of blockbuster hits, is now 79 and ready to give an exclusive interview after years of dodging the press. But the only one granted access is a little-known journalist named Monique Grant. Though she can’t understand why she’s been chosen, Monique goes to Evelyn’s home and finds out Evelyn doesn’t just want to do an interview — she wants to lay out every piece of her truth for Monique to write and sell her biography.
Though Evelyn won’t answer why she picked Monique to do the job, Monique agrees and Evelyn’s story begins to unfold from her calculated beginnings in Hollywood to the millions she enjoys in the present, each section of her life titled by each of her seven husbands and her reasons for marrying (and divorcing) them. As you journey through Evelyn’s life, it feels as if you’re being granted exclusive access to something you shouldn’t be seeing. It’s hard to believe the characters and events in this book aren’t real celebrities.
To me, a great book is one that makes you forget you’re reading in the first place, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo does exactly that. It’s an instantly captivating book, thanks in part to the story, but mostly to Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing. Her stories flow smoothly, her characters are complex and realistically flawed, and I happily got lost in the pages until the very end. This is the perfect cozy fall read!
Book Review: ‘Verity’ By Colleen Hoover
Colleen Hoover is all the rage this summer. The author’s 2016 romance novel It Ends With Us gained fame due to the viral nature of #BookTok (the book lover’s community on TikTok). I’ve always loved reading, especially during the summer months by the beach and pool. Surely because of this, my “For You Page” has been flooding with recommendations and reviews as to what to read next. I can without a doubt say that Verity is worth the hype.
Verity was first published in 2018 and has only just become available worldwide in paperback. I started reading Colleen Hoover last summer when I first discovered It Ends With Us on #BookTok and have read four of her other books since. Given that I finished this one in a day, I would say it is extremely readable!
Verity is different from Hoover’s usual style and genre of romance. This novel is twisting, unsettling, creepy, and psychologically mind-bending. From the beginning, I could not put it down. The plot follows protagonist, Lowen Ashleigh, a struggling writer who accepts a job offer to complete the remaining books of an unfinished, successful series. Jeremy Crawford, the husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen due to his wife’s serious injuries. Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. With shades of Gillian Flynn blending in with Hoover’s classic take on romance, our protagonist finds herself uncovering a story so horrifying, and all the while, falling for a grieving man. There is a thrilling twist at the end, which I am happy to debate, but I’m not giving any spoilers until you read it for yourself! Overall, I highly recommend the purchase. Find it on Amazon.