Glittering good fun

Glamorama
By Bret Easton Ellis

Although this novel has existed since the late Nineties, and I have even known of its existence, I feel shocked that I had not read it sooner. After having read Glamorama, it seems immensely significant. The novel is wonderfully inventive in addition to being a major stylistic accomplishment. Far from being a wry perspective on celebrity culture, mass-consumerism and decadence, Ellis’s glittering novel has a great deal to say about humanity and the tortures we inflict on each other and ourselves.

In the first chunk of the book we’re introduced to model-slash-actor Victor Ward and the vapid, false crowd around him, which includes other models, actors, artists, career celebrities and so on. We spend a week in the life of Victor and these clowns as they endure relationship trials, PR nightmares and business flops. Most other writers would stick to these plotlines and write a mediocre comment on celebrity lifestyle. But not Ellis. Ellis takes it to the next level – and that is why he is such a commendable novelist. Ellis puts Victor on a boat for Europe, where he becomes embroiled in a frightening gang, terrorism, murder and even espionage. It sounds faintly ridiculous, and almost no other writer could manage to tell the story with enough credulity, but in Ellis’s hands it whiffs of masterpiece. The usual Ellis trademarks are all here, horrendous violence, designer drugs and extreme sex, but Glamorama is much more than the sum of these parts.

Glamorama is a glimpse into the shallow world of celebrity and, bizarrely, a look into the depths of the human heart too. Nothing less than astonishing.

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