From The VG Bookshelf: White by Bret Easton Eliis

From The VG Bookshelf: White by Bret Easton Eliis

From The VG Bookshelf:  White by Bret Easton Eliis

This week I am going to discuss “White” the first work of non-fiction by American author Bret Easton Ellis. This is not a review. This work, like everything else Ellis writes, is filled with boredom, anxiety and condescension. The book reads more like notes from his therapy sessions and how do you review therapy sessions

For those who don’t know, Ellis is the author of “Less Than Zero”, “The Rules of Attraction” and “American Psycho”. “White” covers the life that Ellis has lived so far, his ruminations on “Generation Wuss” as he calls the Millennial/Post Millennial Generations, and the trials and tribulations of working in Hollywood.

“White” was originally titled “Privileged White Male”. Ellis’s friends and editors talked him into dropping the privileged and male words. They argued that his privilege and his maleness were obvious. So, is his whiteness, I would think. They also argued that white was a more neutral word. Um, I think the word “white” would make it more controversial and sell more books.

Beginning with his childhood, Ellis seems to have had a life without proper adult supervision. He talks of riding bikes with friends to each others’ homes after school. In my neighborhood, we ran from house to house. There was usually a mother there who briefly looked up from whatever she was doing to take note of who was running through her house. Not in Ellis’s neighborhood. And, even when there were parents, there was no adult supervision. “Shampoo”, starring Warren Beatty was hardly an appropriate movie for children, but, apparently, Ellis’s folks thought it was a movie about clean hair:

Ellis is a Baby Boomer. His folks, no. The Baby Boomer Generation years were 1944 to 1964; his father, Robert Martin Ellis lived from 1941 to 1992. Not a Boomer. This is picky, I know. Ellis had to change reality to fit his narrative.

Ellis calls the Millennial Generation “Generation Wuss”. When I read Ellis, I think that we Boomers should be called “Generation Whine”. Here is his description of our, his and mine, generation:

Mr. Ellis spends way too much time on the movie “American Gigolo”. Why? Well, because of the physical perfection of Richard Gere. While Ellis acknowledges that Richard Gere is not the kind of actor who disappears into a role, he discusses, for pages, every pore of Gere’s body.

A fun part of the book is when Ellis riffs on the Brat Pack stars of the 1980’s. Judd Nelson, Demi Moore, Emilio Estevez and the rest are all here and the gossip is pretty juicy. Tom Cruise comes later and Ellis drops some information on the reality behind the elevator scene in “American Psycho”.

Ellis is at once in love and, in some instances, intimate with actors and yet repelled by them:

Too many of the stories that Ellis relates amount to him contemplating his own navel lint, as in a therapy session with a completely indulgent shrink. He is, but he isn’t, every character in his books and spends too much time analyzing this fact. Isn’t that true of every author and every character? Wouldn’t the writer have to pull something from himself in order to make that character ring true? Ellis can’t get beyond himself to own this truth.

The best part of the book is on Trump Derangement Syndrome. Ellis would have been better off to have someone like Steve Hilton of Fox News to keep him in line and more focused:

Other than the juicy Hollywood gossip, this was the best part of the book. If you like to read about people you always suspected were shallow and weak, you can read the whole book. If you like navel gazing, you can read the whole book. For a great take on Trump Derangement Syndrome, what the video from above.

Bret Easton Ellis needs a sharper editor and/or a less indulgent therapist.

Photo Credit: Composite by Darleen Click for Victory Girls

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  • GWB says:

    This is picky, I know.
    Not just picky, but pointless and somewhat untrue. The years for “Boomers” and “Xers” and everyone else has changed over the years (generally to suit some new decided elitist narrative on who did what when). Until sometime after high school, I was considered a “Boomer” – then they slid the ending years to the left a bit and I fell out. My parents were born in the war years, but were labeled as “Boomers” because of when *I* was born.
    The whole point of the generational labeling is to paint with really broad brushes, and establishing strict year limits on that sort of defeats the whole point.

    Here is his description of our, his and mine, generation:
    I don’t see where your complaint is with the quote you post. He’s generally right: the generation of which he speaks didn’t get participation trophies, they dealt with bullies as required, and they learned to handle failure as part of the path to success.
    (Being in those transition years, we got participation ribbons at field day, but the winners got really nice ribbons of trophies. We got a little trophy for being on the soccer team, but the winning teams all got BIG trophies. Etc., etc.)

    Too many of the stories that Ellis relates amount to him contemplating his own navel lint, as in a therapy session with a completely indulgent shrink.
    Sadly, that’s something the “Boomers” started. And way too common.

    Thanks for taking the bullet for the team, Toni.

  • zenman says:

    My parents took my sister and I to inappropriate movies all through our childhood. This had more to do with the cost of babysitting for a young, single income, lower middle-class family than any concern how a film might effect us. I believe the sentiment was “well, it’s past their bedtime so they’ll probably just sleep through the whole thing.”

    Easy Rider (1969) is one that stands out, considering I was born in 1964.

    • Toni Williams says:

      I still haven’t seen Easy Rider, lol. We lived with my grandparents, so baby sitting was not a problem.

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