Bret Easton Ellis (born March 7, 1964 in Los Angeles, California) is an American author. He was regarded as one of the so-called literary Brat Pack, which also included Tama Janowitz and Jay McInerney. He has called himself a moralist, although he is one of his generation's most controversial authors because of his graphic prose style. Influenced by French social realists like Flaubert and Balzac, Ellis updates those novelists' themes of youthful ennui, materialism, status obsession, and social trangression; he also employs their technique of linking novels with common, recurring characters. His dystopic locales typically make use of large, dense cities such as Los Angeles, New York and Paris.
The Rules of Attraction followed a group of sexually promiscuous college students, and sold fairly well, though Ellis admits he felt he had "fallen off", after the novel failed to match the success of his debut effort.
His most controversial work, the graphically violent novel American Psycho, was intended to be published by Simon & Schuster, but they withdrew after external protests from interest groups such as the NOW and many others due to the perceived misogynistic nature of the book. The novel was later published by Vintage. Some consider this novel, whose protagonist, Patrick Bateman, is both a cartoonishly materialistic yuppie and a serial killer, to be an example of transgressive art. American Psycho has achieved considerable cult status.
His collection of short stories, The Informers, contains vignettes of wayward Los Angeles characters ranging from rock stars to vampires.
The novel Glamorama is set in the world of high fashion, following a male model who becomes entangled in a bizarre terrorist organization comprised entirely of other models. The book plays with themes of media, celebrity, and political violence, and like its predecessor American Psycho it uses surrealism to convey a sense of postmodern dread.
His most recent novel is Lunar Park, which uses the form of a celebrity memoir to tell a ghost story about the novelist "Bret Easton Ellis" and his chilling experiences in the apparently-haunted home he shares with his wife and son. In keeping with his usual style, Ellis mixes absurd comedy with a bleak and violent vision.
The other dedication is to Michael Wade Kaplan, who Mr. Ellis said was his best friend and lover for six years, and who died, in January 2004, at the age of 30. They did not live together, Mr. Ellis said: "It was a very loose kind of partnership. It was not particularly conventional, and neither one of us was interested in the lifestyle, I guess."
Mr. Kaplan died barely a month after Mr. Ellis had traveled from New York to Los Angeles to spend Christmas with his mother and two sisters, as he has in most years since he finished college and moved to Manhattan. He planned to spend a few months finishing the final draft of "Lunar Park" and then return to New York.
Instead, he said, Mr. Kaplan's unexpected death left him in a tailspin. He did not attend the funeral in Michigan, he said, because he could not even bring himself to leave his room - the room in his mother's house in Sherman Oaks, in the San Fernando Valley, where he grew up. And he stayed in Los Angeles for 19 months, shuffling from mother to sister to friend and finally a series of hotels, suffering what he calls "a midlife crisis."
"His death was a big catalyst to finish the novel", Mr. Ellis said, and it probably added "a new layer of wistfulness and melancholy to the writing" that had not been there before.
His latest novel, Lunar Park, was dedicated to Michael Wade Kaplan as well as his father, Robert Ellis, about whom he speaks openly in interviews done while promoting this novel. Robert Ellis died in 1992. In one interview he states:
Saying that: I suppose there were moments during the writing of Lunar Park that made me sad because I was writing about unresolved feelings I had about my father and I was drawing on a lot of negative stuff that had happened between the two of us. On the other hand, by the time I finished the book I felt liberated. I did feel I had worked something out between the two of us – even though my main intention was to write a fun genre novel. When his ashes are spread at the end of the book I felt something lift off me.
In yet another interview Bret Easton Ellis comments:
My feelings have changed. You get older, you mellow out. My father was a tough case and there was a lot of damage done. But since his death in 1992—and writing about the feelings I have experienced and that are detailed throughout Lunar Park—obviously I’ve thought about him differently than I did, say, when I was writing Glamorama (which I had begun writing while he was still alive), which at the heart of its conspiracy concerns the relationship between a father and a son. To a certain degree I’ve worked out a lot of issues I had with him, but I think a residue of anger and defeat will always exist. A child should never even think about being a "good son." A parent decides that fate for the child. The parent encourages that. Not the child himself. And the "perfect dad"? I shudder at thinking what that may be.
Bret Easton Ellis has said that the character of Patrick Bateman, from American Psycho, was originally based on his father.
A film about Ellis, titled This Is Not an Exit: The Fictional World of Bret Easton Ellis, was made in 2000. The film is a combination of a documentary on his life as well as dramatizations of scenes from his books.
An adaptation of the collection of short stories The Informers by Ellis is in post-production due for release this year (2008). Directed by Gregor Jordan, script written by Ellis and Nicholas Jarecki, staring Brad Renfro.
He recently wrote the screenplay for a film titled The Frog King which is set to start filming with Joseph Gordon-Levitt starring.
His latest novel, Lunar Park, is being made into a movie looking towards a 2009 release date. It was adapted into a screenplay by Lane Shadgett.
Ellis often uses recurring characters and settings. Major characters in one novel may become minor ones in the next, or vice versa. Camden College, a fictional New England liberal arts college, is frequently referenced. It is based on Bennington College, which Ellis himself attended, where he met and befriended fellow writer Donna Tartt.
An album by Porcupine Tree, Fear of a Blank Planet, was largely inspired by Ellis' novel, Lunar Park. While the novel is told from the father's point of view, the record is mostly from the son's point of view, although "My Ashes" reflects the regrets of the son's dead grandfather as they scatter his ashes, referencing the scene at the end of Lunar Park.
The Misfits have a song called American Psycho off their 1997 album American Psycho. The song is written about Patrick Bateman and references the story many times.
Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers wrote a song about the character Patrick Bateman entitled 'Patrick Bateman'. The song was featured on the B-side of their single La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh) released July 26, 1993. The song gained a small amount of notoriety for the line 'I fucked God up the ass'.
In the television series Dexter, the main character uses Patrick Bateman as an alias.
The metalcore band Zao has a song called Breathe Of The Black Muse in reference to American Psycho