True to the darkly satirical trademark tone of all Bret Easton Ellis' novels, this tale coasts on the voices of Therese Plummer and Christian Rummel, narrating California's disaffected youth with the biting nonchalance that only New York actors like these could provide. The Informers is a series of linked vignettes depicting the alternatingly bland and violent hardships of the stereotypically rich, numb, and dumb in 1980s Los Angeles, each chapter told from the perspective of a different and often anonymous person. That anonymity is the key to Plummer and Rummel's masterful telling. The majority of these characters talk through their surgically altered noses and draw out their surfer vowels in classic West Coast style, largely indistinguishable from one another by voice, just as they are by their actions.
There is a bisexual love-quadrangle where everyone is looking to trade up for a wealthier connection and a bigger apartment. Rummel voices the female portions of dialogue with surprising ease. A father desperately forces his son into a bonding vacation in Hawaii where he fails to make conversation and fails to get laid. Rummel's rendering of both father and son's drunken slurring is tragicomic in the extreme. A college student takes the train cross-country to watch her father marry a much younger health nut and aspiring newscaster who owns 20 ripped Flashdance sweatshirts. Plummer's judgmental inflections are perfectly timed in this very rare treat, as Ellis does not often so deeply develop female characters. A junkie rock star lists an assortment of beatings, rapes, and near-miss overdoses he floats through with groupies at the Tokyo Hilton. Rummel's snappy and snappish accent for the put upon British manager of the band is a major bright spot in this long string of Californians.
But some names do stand out in the endless parade, as Ellis reinvents many characters from his other novels in this one. Tim Price (from the cult classic American Psycho) tells of a gloomy foursome having dinner on the anniversary of their friend's death by brutal car crash. A middle-aged pill-popper speculates on the herpes-riddled adventures of Blair and Julian (from Ellis' first novel, Less Than Zero). A college student takes the semester off, slowly sinking into the Los Angeles lifestyle until she can't mobilize for a return to Camden (the school in many Ellis novels), chronicling her progress from scholarly and sensitive brunette to bored and senseless blonde by writing unanswered letters to Sean Bateman (from Rules of Attraction). Listening to Therese Plummer and Christian Rummel give voice to these old and familiar favorites will send shivers up your already creeped-out spine. With over 100 audiobooks between them, the two narrators have no trouble expressing an utter indifference with which each of these character snapshots is speeding toward denial or death. In less capable mouths, a story like this would just leave you cold, but Plummer and Rummel make it chilling. Megan Volpert
In this seductive and chillingly nihilistic new book, Bret Easton Ellis, the author of American Psycho, returns to Los Angeles, the city whose moral badlands he portrayed unforgettably in Less Than Zero. The time is the early 80s. The characters go to the same schools and eat at the same restaurants. Their voices enfold us as seamlessly as those of DJs heard over a car radio. They have sex with the same boys and girls and buy from the same dealers. In short, they are connected in the only way people can be in that city.
Dirk sees his best friend killed in a desert car wreck, then rifles through his pockets for a last joint before the ambulance comes. Cheryl, a wannabe newscaster, chides her future stepdaughter, "You're tan but you don't look happy." Jamie is a clubland carnivore with a taste for human blood. As rendered by Ellis, their interactions compose a chilling, fascinating, and outrageous descent into the abyss beneath L.A.'s gorgeous surfaces.
As an added bonus, when you purchase our Audible Modern Vanguard production of Bret Easton Ellis' book, you'll also get an exclusive Jim Atlas interview added to your library.
©1995 Bret Easton Ellis (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
"The Informers skillfully accomplishes its goal of depicting a modern moral wasteland...arguably Ellis' best." (The Boston Globe)
"Spare, austere, elegantly designed, telling in detail, coolly ferocious, sardonic in its humor; every vestige of authorial sentiment is expunged." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Ellis...is an extremely traditional and very serious American novelist. He is the model of literary filial piety, counting among his parents Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Nathanael West, and Joan Didion." (The Washington Post)
Fine collection of early 80's stories from Ellis. I'm really glad that both a male and a female narrator were used to divide up the different chapters (each one is told in first person). Therese Plummer in particular, is a real talent.
If you enjoy reading mundane, psycho-babble about drugs and sex (and not good to listen to sex)read. Otherwise, read something else from BEE... Not his best
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