shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass

8.21.2005

the only review of lunar park you must read this year

(Well, except Rake's and Lizzie Skurnick's.)

Liz Hand is one of my favorite reviewers and she takes a look at the book for the WaPo this week:
Ellis has an obvious familiarity with and a real affection for the standard tropes of supernatural fiction. He's admitted that as a boy he read Stephen King's Salem's Lot at least a dozen times. No shame there, and if Ellis had stuck to a single supernatural trope, he might have written a genuinely scary book. Instead, he tosses together so many hoary genre elements that the novel begins to resemble a middle-aged yuppie rehash of a Hammer Horror film, less The Turn of the Screw than "Heart of Dorkness." There's the ghost of Bret's monstrous, violent father, whom Ellis claimed was the inspiration for the serial-killer protagonist of American Psycho . There are little Sarah's evil toy (the Yerby), a post-Halloween haunting of Bret and Jayne's house at 307 Elsinore Lane, croaking ravens, disemboweled pets, mysterious computer messages, things clawing at the bedroom door, child abductions, a hardboiled detective and even a psychic investigator.
The bio tag mentions that her novel Generation Loss is forthcoming. She talked a little about it in an interview with Science Fiction Weekly after the release of Mortal Love:
I'm working on a new novel with various working titles; today it's Generation Loss. It's a contemporary fantasy set on New York's Lower East Side and the Maine archipelago. Thematically it's similar to my most recent work, stuff like "The Least Trumps" and "Wonderwall"—Art changes reality, Desire changes reality. It's about a photographer, a punk provocateur somewhat in the Cindy Sherman/Robert Mapplethorpe mold; and it's about desire and the creation of art, a version of the myth of Eros and Psyche.

My prose style has altered pretty radically in the last few years, since completing Mortal Love—for whatever reason, I'm writing in a more stripped-down, elliptical fashion. I don't really seem to fit into the mainstream of genre writers, and I certainly don't fit into the mainstream of mainstream writers. But "The Least Trumps" made it onto the shortlist for The Best American Short Stories (as did several other stories from that issue of Conjunctions), and that kind of psyched me up to do more stuff in that vein. And so the last few stories I've written—"Wonderwall," which was in Flights; "Echo," which will be in Fantasy & Science Fiction; "Kronia," which will be in Conjunctions next spring—they're quite different from my earlier work. They're far more self-revelatory, for one thing. And they're also almost impossible for me to describe. "Kronia" is very short, only 1,500 words, which is about as far from my usual work as you can get—that's, like, the length of an average Liz Hand sentence! But it's exciting. I wrote these things and I honestly didn't know if they were any good, or even publishable: They were so different from anything else I'd done. It felt risky, even frightening, to show them to anyone, let alone to an unknown reader, but I decided that maybe that sense of risk is a good thing. I'd like to extend this elliptical prose style to Generation Loss. It expands, thematically, on the same issues I examined in "The Least Trumps," though there's no overlap of characters. And the new novel riffs on two of my favorite movies, Michael Powell's I Know Where I'm Going and Carol Reed's surreal Odd Mann Out (the film Reed made right before The Third Man). Generation Loss takes one of its epigraphs from Roland Barthes: "I then realized that there was a sort of link (or knot) between Photography, madness, and something whose name I did not know. I began by calling it: the pangs of love." That's the knot I'll be unraveling for a while to come.
The words can't wait seem appropriate.

See also: Tingle Alley's post on Lunar Park, complete with link to Bret Easton Ellis vs. Katie Couric.

6 Comments:

  • At 11:25 AM , Blogger chance said...

    that's what you were reading? Oh you poor thing.

     
  • At 12:38 PM , Anonymous Craig said...

    Thanks for the excerpt about the new Liz Hand novel. I just finished Mortal Love.

    I was in a class with her way back in the day, before Winterlong was a blip on her radar.

     
  • At 8:42 PM , Blogger mapletree7 said...

    Goddamn it! I give up. I just can't get away from Lunar Park. Seems like everybody and their sister is reviewing it. Makes me wonder if BEE is really hot or something.

    I'll put it on m list at the library, along with Mortal Love.

     
  • At 6:37 AM , Anonymous Liz Hand said...

    Hey Gwenda, found this while looking for what other people thought of LUNAR PARK. Drop me a line -- Craig, you too -- (tbird@midcoast.com, I wanted to follow up on dinner in Glasgow.

    I wonder how the Ellis is selling?

    Also, just for the record, the finished version of GL turned out not to be a supernatural novel, but a suspense novel. That wasn't how I planned it but it took its own left turn during the third or fourth revision.

     
  • At 7:28 AM , Blogger gwenda said...

    I predict tons of copies of it on remainder tables fairly soon. I can't imagine it's going to resonate with The Lovely Bones OR The DaVinci Code crowd.

    Will definitely email. Glasgow dinner was fabulous!

     
  • At 3:04 PM , Blogger mattbrodie said...

    Psychic Spell. Simply, with your computer keyboard ask the reader your questions and the truth will be revealed, Psychic Spell

     

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