03 September 2013

Book Review: Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis

Personally, it is a rare occurrence when I find a book and just start devouring it. Most books I pick up are okay, and I do enjoy reading them, but it is rare to find a book when I seem to like it from the very beginning. Bret Easton Ellis' Lunar Park is one such book, and I have enjoyed reading it from the moment I turned its cover to read from page 1.

Lunar Park is a mock memoir; and given the fact that I have already read two previously novels by this amazing author, I sort of knew what I was in for. I first read American Psycho, followed by The Rules of Attraction; both of those books I have read last year. And somehow, I am glad that I have read those two novels before reading this current one, as believe it or not, there are explicit relationships between these books.

A short synopsis: Lunar Park is a novel about a novelist whose name is Bret Easton Ellis. However, the author himself claims that the Bret in the novel and the Bret in real life have no connection with each other. That, however, is hard to stomach. After all, the book begins like a memoir, and details the various happenings that were associated with the releases of the previous novels written by the real Bret. It even describes the opening sentences of all the previous books, and yes, the first sentence of The Rules of Attraction opens mid-sentence, with the word "and".

So the novel begins like an autobiography of the author himself, except that it isn't. By this time, I was already hooked, as I loved the way fiction becomes metafiction. I love the way the author forces the reader to think about the boundaries of reality. Come to think of it, this is one of the main topics of this book: where does reality end and fiction begin? Gradually, the memoir gives way to horror; Bret describes the strange and weird occurrences that start happening in his house in a suburb of New York City. And later on, not to give everything away, but Bret (the main character) realizes that these strange occurrences are mirror images of the strange occurrences that he wrote about in previous books, most notably, from American Psycho. In other words, the fictional world he wrote in a previous book came to life. In Lunar Park, there is a Patrick Bateman walking around town killing people the way the fictional Patrick Bateman in American Psycho went around and killed people.

As if that wasn't interesting on its own, reading Lunar Park gave me new insights on American Psycho. Suddenly, I got a renewed appreciation for the older book. It's almost like Lunar Park was the Cliffnotes of American Psycho. I now know how the American Psycho came to fruition, how Bret Easton Ellis came up with the idea of Patrick Bateman, who he based it from, and so forth. It was like I read two books in one.

And on top of that, above the satire and horror, this novel is actually about families. We all have relatives, parents, children, and other people who are supposed to be close to us, but aren't. How do you deal with them? What if they pass away and you missed the chance of reconciliation? This is one novel describing one author's take on the topic.

There are several narrative devices that a familiar reader of Bret Easton Ellis' work would notice. I won't praise them all here, but one thing that strikes me the most is the unreliability of his narrators. Both in American Psycho as well as in Lunar Park, one cannot be absolutely sure whether the events narrated in the book actually happened or not. Maybe it was all fantasy. Maybe it was all a hallucination induced by drugs and alcohol. Either way, it is a fantastic story and I totally recommend it.

Needless to say, I am giving this book 5 out of 5 stars. If you ever decide to read this, sit down and fasten your seatbelts, you're in for a wild ride.

See my other book reviews here.

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