Dallas' Book Report: White By Bret Easton Ellis

Bret Easton Ellis is a polarizing figure in American literature. And he is also one of the best. Less Than Zero and American Psycho are hailed as masterpieces of postmodern literature as well as being adapted into films. American Psycho has even been given a Broadway musical, and as someone who appreciates show tunes—it is glorious!
But back to the whole polarizing thing. For all of the praise given, Ellis has also had a fair share of stones being cast as well. He has been called a bigot, a misogynist, and even dangerous for penning the stories that he has. If you think that he was controversial then, goodness gracious his latest book—White—will send his critics flying headlong through their collectives roofs!

On Dallas' Book Report, I have not discussed non-fiction books very much; and for a good reason. Non-fiction tends to (not always) become dated. So I stick to fiction. But Ellis' White was such a rapturous read that I read it in one sitting and now have to share its insights with you, dear reader. 
So, what is this book about? 
In a short answer: Everything. 
White is not so much any one particular topic or an autobiography—but a series of vignettes about Ellis and his views on politics, social issues, movies, music, and everything under the sun that popped into his head while writing it. Think of White as the stream-of-consciousness babbling brook that resides within Ellis' head. 

This, while the topics he chooses, are intriguing and fun to read, is the epitome of a mixed bag. Ellis' writing lacks focus, and many of the events he reminiscences on or topics he touches jumps around. It is akin to a kid with attention deficit disorder who has not taken their prescription of Ritalin. Believe me, I have been there. But then again, I think that is the point of the whole book. The critic in my mind said, “stay on topic, man!” but the fan in my head jumped up and said, “Get em' Bret!”

This is where the sun of praise shall shine upon Mr. Ellis. Because White is so gloriously scathing in its commentary on social issues that one cannot help but feel entertained by the spectacle of it all. Ellis is sure to piss just about everyone off with his laser-focused criticism of race and gender-based movements; liberals and conservatives, and especially—his experience with the media. Ellis himself even stated that his ability to trigger Millenials (not the hardest of tasks, if one were, to be honest) is “insane.” Take a deep breath before reaching for your pitchforks and torches. Because a lot of the finger shaking from Ellis is also directed at the elite. 

White focuses on how truly deranged and base showbiz and the media can be. Brett has had run-ins with greedy executives, hard-assed publishers, broken actors and actresses, and the overall circus that is Hollywood. Umbridge from Ellis falls mostly on the shoulders of the preppy types. You know, the ones who smile in front of the camera but lead debased lives behind it. This is nothing new for Ellis' works, frequent the lives of such beings, and White is no exception. This time, he just used his experiences in the real world instead of creating an avatar to explore how broken such people are. 

One part fascinatingly fun; two parts rambling and unfocused rush of writing. Throw those all together, and you get White. Not surprising since both cocaine and sugar produce the same effects and are addictive. You be the judge if you want such a rush on your bookshelf. But for me personally, I like the candy man that Ellis is. In the immortal words of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown: "I need those hits!"


Popular Posts