Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Monday, 19 September 2011

"The Informers" by Bret Easton Ellis (Picador, 1994)

I've categorised this as a short story collection because that's how the frontispiece describes it. I think few of the pieces (some as short as 4 pages) can stand alone. I prefer to think of it as a novel.

Early in most chapters there are clues to the year (if only in the mentions of current films and albums) and the identity of the characters, but a crib would help - people change partners and orientation quickly, and people might share the same name. You don't know which of the swirling characters will recur, so you may need to keep a list.

The characters

I may well have missed some clues and cross-references, but here's a start

  • Bruce, Robert, Lauren and Marshall are friends. Chapter 1's narrator is friends with Reynolds
  • Anne, Eve and Faith are friends.
  • Eve's daughter is Sheila.
  • Faith's son is Dirk
  • Ricky (Danny's friend) is murdered.
  • Edward has a son called Danny
  • Raymond, Graham, Dirk (Erikson?) and Tim are friends. Jamie died a year before Chapter 2
  • Bryan and Nina are together. They have a son called Kenny
  • Elena is married to Les Price. Their children are Tim + girls
  • Cheryl was married to William. William then met Linda. Cheryl met Danny
  • XXX is married to William and having an affair with Martin. Their children are Graham and Susan.

Chapter narrators

They're all first-person. I think that the action spans no more than a year or 2.

  1. 1982: Narrator is friend/lover of Bruce and Reynolds
  2. Narrator is Tim
  3. 1983: Narrator is XXX - one of William's wives; Graham's mother. She has a thing about young men, poolboys. Her shrink is Dr. Nova.
  4. Narrator is Les Price, on holiday with son Tim
  5. Narrator is Susan, on the way to the re-marriage of her father, William, to Cheryl.
  6. Narrator is Cheryl Laine, a news presenter separated from William. Current partner of Danny (19). Friends with Sheldon. She goes out, drugs up, misses the program she's supposed to anchor
  7. 1984: Narrator is Bryan Metro, a rockstar who abuses groupies. He's on tour in Japan with his agent Roger. They meet "The English Prices"
  8. 1983: Letters by Anne to Sean. Unrequited love. Anne meets Randy who ODs
  9. Narrator is Graham who's with Christie, Randy and Martin. Martin's helping Leon to make a video of "The English Prices". Graham's father (William?) dies
  10. Narrator is Jamie, a vampire. His shrink is Dr. Nova. Jamie's a friend of Dirk, a cannibal
  11. Narrator knows Peter and Mary, who've kidnapped a boy. The narrator kills him.
  12. Narrator, who's with a dying girl, knows Mona and Griffin. They're on a beach holiday together
  13. Narrator is with Bruce who's married to Grace who he's promised to leave for the narrator. During a zoo visit he tells the narrator he's an alien.

There's lots of valium, tumbleweed, tanned blondes, shared lovers, Wayfarers sunglasses and crossing of legs. LA features heavily - "I didn't recognize the signs that accompany an affair with a married man since basically in L.A. there aren't any" (p.258)

Sometimes the dialog is snappy. More often it's expansive. I liked "The Up Escalator", "In the Islands" and "Another Gray Area", though I thought they were rather long.

Other reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment