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Literature: Glamorama

"The better you look, the more you see."

"Basically everyone was a sociopath... and all the girls' hair was chignoned."

Glamorama is a 1998 novel by Bret Easton Ellis.

If someone wanted to be glib about the plot of Glamorama, they could say, "It's like the movie Zoolander, but played straight." But they'd only be about 25% correct.

Glamorama stars Victor, the mostly absent Europe-roaming boyfriend of Lauren's in The Rules of Attraction, as a somewhat vapid and completely solipsistic fashion model. He's risen to a level of fame and fortune; at the beginning of the novel, he's opening an extremely chic nightclub that promises to garner a large celebrity turnout. Victor is dating supermodel Chloe Byrnes while banging Alison Poole (who is dating the nightclub owner and Victor's business partner/boss) while doing a ton of drugs and chugging a ton of booze. Then Victor meets the strange and vague F. Fred Palakon, a man who offers him $300,000 to track down a former classmate of his, Jamie Fields. Victor takes the job and eventually finds Jamie and before he fully realizes it, he is waist-deep in the bizarre and violent happenings of an international terrorist group made up entirely of fashion models.

The book is a pitch-black Satire of celebrity culture with a dollop of Gorn and side of Meta Fiction. It embraces several Ellis hallmarks (drugs and booze galore, disaffection, meaningless sex), but offers some departures from the usual Ellis fare.


This novel provides examples of:

  • And I Must Scream: There are quite a few shocking scenes that are this. And they're usually in a Gorn context.
  • Arc Words: "Let's slide down the surface of things"
  • A Threesome is Manly: Subverted. Victor, Bobby and Jamie have very graphically described and at times acrobatic sex. Bobby and Victor both penetrate each other and though Victor has thrown around some homophobic slurs, he certainly seems to enjoy it.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Inverted.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Well of course!
  • The Cameo: You know how Zoolander was bursting at the seams with cameos? This manages to go beyond it somehow. There are sentences in the novel that are just Long Lists of famous people at one particular event or another.
  • Catch Phrase: Victor's is, "The better you look, the more you see." It's likely that he doesn't even know what that means.
    • He uses "Spare me!" very liberally.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Patrick Bateman, the Villain Protagonist from American Psycho exists in the same universe as Christian Bale, the actor who plays the film adaptation version of Bateman in Real Life.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Victor's knowledge of song lengths makes a return near the end of the book.
  • City of Spies: It seems like it at times.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Bobby Hughes is probably the strongest example.
  • Development Hell: The film adaptation. After Ellis was thoroughly impressed with the film of The Rules of Attraction, he handed the lifetime film rights over to Roger Avary. That was in 2002. Since the, Avary's completed and storyboarded a script, which according to Ellis' tweets, is awesome. However, TROA's underwhelming box office and the general dark tone of Ellis' work has kept studio funding away so far.
  • The Ditz: VICTOR. Also Alison.
  • Everyone Is Bi: Certainly seems this way.
  • Fashion Show: It is about models after all.
  • Fetch Quest: This is where the plot seems to be going,but then it takes a hard turn.
  • Gainax Ending
  • Gorn: Yep. Though not as prevalent as it was in American Psycho, it's still there in force. An especially brutal example is the death of Chloe.
  • Meta Fiction: An interesting example. It doesn't rear it's head until roughly halfway through the book, but Victor eventually starts conversing with the "director" and "crew" of the events that are unfolding. Some people argue that this indicates that Victor is a schizophrenic.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Oh, Victor.
  • Unreliable Narrator: In a way, Victor is an accidental case of this. The reader is able to pick up on events and meanings of things in the story that Victor is too air-headed or conceited to detect (at least at first). The way he views what's going on around him at times differs from what the reader can parse out.
  • Unsettling Gender-Reveal: Bobby Hughes does this to Victor (gives him a blowjob while dressed as a woman) on the cruise-liner as a way to steal an sensitive object for Victor. But considering the bisexual threesome that Bobby, Victor and Jamie engage in later...
  • The Verse: Victor himself was a supporting character in The Rules of Attraction. Also appearing are: Lauren and Bertrand from the same book. Jamie is technically a Ellisverse character as she was indeed mentioned by Victor as a former girlfriend in The Rules of Attraction. Alison Poole is also the main character of Story Of My Life, a novel by Jay McInerney.
  • Western Terrorists: They're a group of international fashion models, but their goals are somewhat unclear.

The Gift of the MagiLit FicThe Go-Between
The Giver QuartetLiterature of the 1990sGods and Generals

alternative title(s): Glamorama
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