Pretty People With Problems
So I just completed The Rules of Attraction by Brett Easton Ellis and I have to say I’ve been completely consumed by it, for better and for worse. Seriously, I have the voices of all the characters stuck in my head. Hey, what else can I say? The fast-paced, first-person point of view really hooked me in to the world Ellis was trying to convey. I will admit, however, I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty as I read it, because I know Ellis is a rather polarizing figure who conjures up strong opinions from both those who love him and those who’d prefer if he were burned alive. I guess you could say I felt as if I shouldn’t have been reading it because I feared other people would judge me, mkay?
If you’re not familiar with book’s plot, here it is: three spoiled, privileged college students (a virgin, a bisexual drama student, and a drug dealer) at a liberal arts college during the 1980s get themselves tangled in a juicy love triangle that involves a lot of drugs, drinking, sex and R.E.M.. What I found so oddly fascinating about this book is that I generally hated all of the characters at some point and it’s probably the most negative reading experience I’ve ever had. So, of course, I enjoyed it immensely. It’s essentially about pretty people and their fucked up lives, and what’s not to like about that?
Pretty people with problems — that’s the lesson of the day, folks. You see, something wonderful happened as I read. Even though I detested all the characters at some point, I was mesmerized by them every step of the way. The mix of Reagan-era conservatism and bat-shit insanity helped make every character seem so compelling. It’s like each character was this tightly knit, unstable ball of excess wrapped in a fashionable cardigan sweater.
Maybe the characters worked so well in this book because the best characters in writing are often those with two or more contrasting elements. Here, the characters in The Rules of Attraction are spoiled and affluent yet their warped delusions of romance prove that social class isn’t everything. It’s the idea where two elements of a character contrast that makes you pay attention to what’s happening in a piece of writing. Whether you wind up liking or not liking what you read is irrelevant.
Writing is at its most intriguing when it plays with your sense of normalcy and takes you outside the comfort zone provided by preconceived notions and typicality. If the writer’s got the reader in the palm of their hand and manages to make the reader feel as if they’re under the control of a writer who’ll subject them to anything, then it’s a job well done. Giving twists or quirks to pretty, seemingly flawless characters often works so well because it tears down that sense of normalcy and makes the reader feel as if everything they’ve previously known about the world is slightly incorrect.
So, yeah, Brett Easton Ellis is probably not for everyone, but there’s no denying The Rules of Attraction has what makes good writing tick. The endless references to bands like The Cure or R.E.M. certainly doesn’t hurt its cause either.
Words You Should Use More Often
Definition: The hybrid offspring of a male tiger and a lioness.
Origin: Emerged in the 1920s as a portmanteau word from “tiger” and “lion.”
Example: “The tigon growled at its handler, and eventually tore the face off the poor bloke with a single swipe of its paw.”
Why You Should Use It More Often: Most people are familiar with the word “liger” which was made popular thanks to Napoleon Dynamite. However, that “liger” phenomenon is so 2004 and “tigon” is where it’s at now. I can’t but help but think the word sounds like the name of a Transformer, which automatically makes it sound more badass. If you ever find yourself in need of an animal for a piece of writing, don’t just simply use a lion or a tiger. Take it to the next level and include a tigon just for the sake of it. It will pique the reader’s curiosity.
Random Daze theme by Polaraul