SPOILERS: If you haven’t read Less Than Zero, American Psycho, Imperial Bedrooms or Bright Lights, Big City and would like to do so in the future, it’s probably not a great idea to read this. BLBC in particular has an ending quite capable of being spoiled by the heavy quoting that follows.
Like, it seems, many of the critics, I was distinctly unsure what to make of Imperial Bedrooms, Bret Easton Ellis’s first novel in 5 years and sequel to his scorching, iridescent debut Less Than Zero (both, incidentally, are named after Elvis Costello albums) . In the end it took not a rereading of Less Than Zero, or indeed an evening at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in the company of Ellis and hundreds of his fans, but an encounter with another work of the 1980s “literary brat pack” before I could truly bring it into focus.
Last night I finished Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney. I only picked it up because it was £2 in FOPP, and I nearly didn’t do that, only spotting the stack behind the counter once I had picked up a few other thing and gone to pay for them. “Oh, chuck in a copy of that,” I said, gesturing toward the pile of yellow paperbacks behind the cashier. All things considered I’m rather glad I did. I walked a few doors up to my favourite cafe in Nottingham and started to read. (more…)
In London to hear Bret Easton Ellis discuss Imperial Bedrooms on Tuesday, I took an early train and spent the day.
A wander through Soho and the dubious delights of Carnaby Street led to a veritable treasure of sandwich-making. Thanks for Franks is nestled just off Carnaby St itself (Yelp) and styled like an American diner-cum-deli. It serves the kind of giant, meaty sandiwches that characters in American TV shows eat at their desks, dripping teriyaki sauce and/or Thousand Island dressing everywhere but miraculously not on their clothes or any important documents (Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, I’m looking at you…). I had the chargrilled chicken, which at £6 wasn’t too bad given the location, and sat outside watching Soho’s wildlife. Highly recommended.
Denmark Street might not be what it once was, but it’s still a pilgrimage I have to make from time to time. There are still gems to be found every now and again, such as the lovely 1969 Gibson EB-0 I played. Can’t afford it at the moment, but someday it’d be a lovely addition to the stable someday.
St George’s Bloomsbury is a pilgrimage of a more traditional sort, one I’ve tried and failed to make a couple of times before. This time I called ahead. Simply the best preserved and most elegant of Nicholas Hawksmoor’s glorious Baroque London churches, it is a treasure. My love of English Baroque churches probably stems from a couple of other examples, Derby Cathedral and Holy Trinity Leeds, but St George’s trumps them both for sheer elegance. The nave is a perfect cube, which seems an unremarkable fact until you think about it for a moment, stood within its geometric simplicity. (more…)