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Andrew Korcheck
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Book Review: The Shards (published 2023) by Bret Easton Ellis

The latest postmodern-psychological-experimental-horror-thriller from the famed author of American Psycho is sure to keep you on your toes. Written in the form of a fictionalized autobiography (similar to one of Ellis’ previous novels, Lunar Park) of Ellis’ time in high school during the height of a series of murders by a killer dubbed “The Trawler” by the media (for reasons which are sure to make your skin crawl), the book is an interesting experiment in the genre of “autofiction”. But not only is this book highly creative, it is also a hefty (a little over 600 pages) horror novel that doesn’t hold back in its raw depictions of the horrific acts of violence committed by “The Trawler”. This tale is surely one that will stick in your memory.

The book takes us back to the LA/Hollywood area in the early 1980s. A time and place full of apathy and capitalist greed, a time and place where even a depraved psychopath can exist under the radar. Ellis writes of this time with an almost comical nostalgia (which I take to be a purposeful self-parody) and describes every event with a staggering level of detail. Since this book is “autofiction”, our author takes the place of the main character and the events of the story take place around him. Ellis describes his struggles of growing up LGBTQ+ in a society that didn’t appreciate people like him, and his struggles with his apathetic and surface-level friends, who are more concerned about their own lives to notice the terror that is closing in on them. Ellis’ growing paranoia regarding the serial killer targeting the Los Angeles area and a mysterious new student at his exclusive high school culminate in a heart-stopping and bloody ending that is sure to be seared in your brain.

This novel is a tour-de-force from an author who I originally thought had lost his charm (see his non-fiction collection White, which comes off as the moaning of someone out of touch). It perfectly balances 80s Slasher movie sleaze and the philosophical philosophizing of the post-modern branch of contemporary literature. A fresh new romp through the terrifyingly apathetic America of Bret Easton Ellis that is sure to leave you shocked. This book was amazing, and I recommend to everyone who is fan of Ellis’ writing and horror in general.

 

 

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