Thursday, April 15, 2004

Brett Easton Ellis

"I was on a panel rather pretentiously titled "Whither Goes the Novel" and it was very interesting because we were talking about the best seller lists of 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990. And the shocking differences between even 1970 and 1980 where the top ten books were literary books, Vidal, Updike, Roth, Fowles. These were literary books that were huge. John Updike's Couples was published in 1968 and was on the cover of Time magazine and caused a rift in the culture. Portnoy's Complaint also caused a major rift. Then you look at the lists of the 1980's and it's Clan of the Cave Bear and a lot of Stephen King creeping up and in the 90's it's all Anne Rice and John Grisham. Corporate and fat and shiny books. I don't think there's any literary fiction on those lists at all. None at all. And it's very rare for a huge writer, someone whose going to be in that Pantheon of Letters, like Joan Didion, to get on the best seller list anymore where she would be on it at one time for months and months and months and these books were discussed at parties and everyone was reading them and talking about them as much as they were talking about any of the current movies or current rock music. Now, in the overall culture books play a much smaller role in peoples lives. Even people who don't read books, who don't touch books, I think were at one time touched by the way certain books had an impact on the culture. Now it seems to be very rare. I think books sometimes still have impact, but on a much smaller, more focused group of people. I actually know people, and I'm shocked to say it, who don't read books, who don't buy books. In fact the guy I dedicated American Psycho to, Bruce Taylor, couldn't even get through American Psycho; he said it was "too hard". He said he read the sex scenes. He also didn't want me to dedicate this book to him, once he found out what it was about (laughs) and he begged me to take his name off the dedication. The book had to be dedicated to him, mostly because he was the one person who really taught me what's funny and what's not. And I always looked at American Psycho, as sick as this might sound, as a really funny book. And I know that all the humor in that book comes from hanging out with this guy, Bruce Taylor, who still is the funniest person I know and he doesn't read books. He has a really dark, twisted sense of humor that I didn't have before I met him. He's still my best friend and he lives out in LA and I've known him since the seventh grade and he doesn't read books, though he's the sort of person who years ago would have."

Learn more about this guy.

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