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Lunar Park


Lunar Park

Where does sanity begin and end? Can moving to the suburbs bring
you sanity, or lure you into insanity? In Bret Easton Ellis's
brilliant new novel, LUNAR PARK --- his first in six years ---
these ideas surface through the life of a character who
surprisingly has the same name as the author. Is Ellis trying to
tell the reader that this story is autobiographical, or is it some
elaborate coincidence?

Ellis's previous novels are disturbing, but they usually escape
being categorized as horror. LUNAR PARK, despite its classification
as literature, absolutely earns itself a place among the top works
of horror. Interestingly, this is Ellis's least graphic and
gruesome work. The highly symbolic gore and explicit sex that fills
his other novels is sparse here. Its place is filled with intricate
descriptions of the daily activities of a suburban family and the
aesthetics of Ellis's home --- activities and settings that for
most families would seem monotonous.

The horror gradually builds throughout LUNAR PARK and takes place
over twelve days. Bret Easton Ellis, a young and highly successful
writer and author of five novels --- several of which brought him
not only fame at a young age but also incredibly harsh criticism
for insidious violence and sex --- has reconnected with old
girlfriend/superstar/actress Jayne Dennis, the mother of his only
son. Dennis also has a daughter, but from another relationship.
Ellis joins the family and their mysteriously intuitive dog in a
paradigmatic Suburbia where he hopes to leave drugs behind and
focus on a new novel that has a purposefully lascivious and tawdry
name. He also will perfunctorily teach one class at a nearby
liberal arts college that highly resembles his alma mater.

But Ellis's plans for peace are hindered by a reoccurring figure
from his past. In addition, it seems that an obsessed fan and
student at the college where Ellis now teaches is carrying out the
murders from AMERICAN PSYCHO in nearby towns and trying to contact
Bret and ruin his life.

There is a supernatural element in this novel --- unique to Ellis's
work --- that climaxes in the last seventy pages and leaves the
reader completely transfixed and hooked. Glimpses of unnatural
activity such as strange lights, ambiguous figures, peeling paint,
vanishing children and sinister dolls continuously appear
throughout the book, and all relate to that recalcitrant figure
from the past. Further, Ellis, in a schizophrenic manner, develops
a subconscious voice that makes itself very clear and calls itself
The Writer. The reader follows Ellis through his dwindling
cognizance and watches him teeter on a very thin line, not knowing
which way he will turn, or fall. Ellis may regain a normal life and
be a father to his son, forgetting about the innumerable missing
boys that show up in the daily paper, or he may crumble into drugs,
alcohol, money and delusion, never to be seen again. It all depends
on a reconciliation with his past.

LUNAR PARK, and especially its opening autobiographical format, has
any serious Ellis fan --- like myself --- immediately hooked and
impossibly trying to discern what is real from what is not. The
novel remains compelling throughout with its magnificent
description and seemingly banal dialogue for which Ellis is famous.
This book is not only for the diehard fan. If this is your first
Ellis novel, it will leave you craving more in a desperate attempt
to fully understand what AMERICAN PSYCHO and LESS THAN ZERO are
really about and why they brought this author so much fame and
criticism. Bret Easton Ellis, who wrote the novel of his generation
as a junior in college, has done it again.

Reviewed by Scott Handwerker on January 7, 2011

Lunar Park
by Bret Easton Ellis

  • Publication Date: August 16, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • ISBN-10: 0375412913
  • ISBN-13: 9780375412912