Analysis / Bret Easton Ellis

This is the place to discuss common trends and themes in Bret Easton Ellis works.


  • Black Comedy: As pitch black as it gets. All of his books, no matter how violent or full of Squick, contain at least three laugh out loud moments and lots of sly dialogue.
  • Black and Gray Morality
  • Crapsack World: In his works, pretty much everybody is completely shallow and selfish, and they're usually too dense to notice how empty and meaningless their lives are.
  • The '80s: and how (though Glamorama, Lunar Park and Imperial Bedrooms are set later)
  • Gossipy Hens: Put any two of his characters in a room together and it's a sure bet they'll start talking about a third.
  • The Film of the Book: Less Than Zero, American Psycho and The Rules of Attraction. The opening of Imperial Bedrooms (the sequel to Less Than Zero) gets very meta with this, and has the characters commenting on how little the film of Less Than Zero had to do with their experiences.
  • Gainax Ending
  • Hookers and Blow: And sometimes just blow. And pot. And heroin. And animal tranquilizers.
  • Los Angeles and New York City: primary settings for his novels.
  • No Ending
  • No Going Steady, occasionally with a dash of Love Triangle / Love Dodecahedron
  • One-Hour Work Week: Main characters in his stories are often described as holding some kind of occupation or important responsibility but never seen engaging in anything related to that activity. For instance, all the main characters in The Rules of Attraction are college students living on campus in the middle a school semester, but no one apparently attends any courses; many main characters in American Psycho have cushy office jobs on Wall Street but don't seem to do any kind of business work.
  • Popular Is Dumb: Both perspective and secondary characters in his novels tend to be well connected and have wide social circles... and be shown in dialogue and narration to be offensively, scarily illiterate about anything going on in the real world (usually Played for Laughs).
  • Post-Modernism: His books started to feature more and more postmodern elements from American Psycho onwards, with Lunar Park the most striking example.
  • The Verse: Characters from previous novels show up in later works, and Patrick Bateman actually debuted (with a somewhat different personality) in The Rules of Attraction. Usually at least two or three other characters from previous novels appear in any given book.
  • Write Who You Know:
    • Has said that his abusive father was the basis for Patrick Bateman as well as the father in Glamorama.
    • He's also been on the receiving end, as Bunny Corcoran from The Secret History, written by his college friend Donna Tartt, is heavily based on him.


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