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The Rules of Attraction ~ Brett Easton Ellis

May 16, 2011

Genre: Adult fiction
Publisher: Vintage
288 pages
ISBN: 9780679781486
Source: Book store

Brett Easton Ellis packs his backs and heads east for a little coed action in The Rules of Attraction. Keggers and Kant fill the hallways and dorm rooms far away from his usual L.A. sunshine, as he delves into college life in chilly New England. No less sparkle than his other books, however, Rules of Attraction has the making of every other Ellis book in the twisted relationships, inner monologues and, oh, yes, the substance usage.  Written in a far  more complex, yet sometimes superficial, method than his Tinseltown stories, Ellis, uses a much more down to earth approach to this telling.

The story shifts back and forth between several college students, primarily, Paul, Lauren and Sean.

Paul is, first and foremost, the voice of settled bisexuality in a campus where everyone seems to be simply experimenting. Solid in his own orientation, he drifts through, lyrically observing everyone else. His passages were, hands down, my favorite. I think that he was, if I had to take a guess, the most “Bret”- like in that the voice seemed too honest for it not to be, in some way, the author’s own.

Sean is the somewhat clueless, mildly jaded, failing drug connection on campus. He has a soft spot for Lauren but a weakness for just about everyone else. His arc is slightly melodramatic but probably right in line with his stereotyped role as a college male.

Lauren is a poetry major but probably the least interesting to read. Her storyline is fairly halting in its telling which makes me wondering if Ellis is not as adept as writing for female voices as he is for males. She remains interesting enough as she’s painted through other tellers’ eyes, yet, when it comes to her own sections, she seems to be lacking in substance.

Altogether, they work to make a picture of college life that could have been in the 50’s or continued through now. I know, though my own freshman year started a decade ago, that this story, in many ways, can relate to segments of my own experience.

Though his prose is fairly dry and, at some points, downright lacking, the story and the character portrayal are what keep me perpetually interested in BEE. This is a great departure from his usual fare if you are looking for something from Ellis that isn’t quite as Hollywood.

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