Bret Easton Ellis in “Le Monde”, an author expected at the turn of each novel

Tpension-seven years. From his first to his last novel, Splinters (Robert Laffont, 2023), published Thursday March 16, the daily The world scrupulously followed the career of the American novelist, Bret Easton Ellis. From the publication of less than zero (Christian Bourgois, 1986), Bernard Géniès shared, on July 4, 1986, his enthusiasm for this 22-year-old stranger whom he nicknamed the “novelist of the dreary generation”. From this “curious story” which portrays the golden youth of Los Angeles, beautiful, rich, stoned and totally disillusioned girls and boys, the journalist underlines the“extraordinary power of storytelling”.

Six years later, in the spring of 1992, the novelist made a resounding comeback with his controversial American Psycho (Salvy, 1992), the story of Patrick Bateman, young golden boy and “psychopath with cold humor as a scalpel”. A character of whom Michel Braudeau wrote, on April 24, 1992, that he “is, alas, one of the most interesting that we have created in the last ten years”. Of the violent controversy across the Atlantic which caused the writer to receive death threats, the journalist noted that, “even more than the neutral tone that Bateman uses to recount his crimes, what has shocked the Americans is that he is a symbol of success, one of his golden children. That at the end of the novel he remains unpunished”. It was a success: sales soared and the novel was translated into 24 countries.

Leader of a new kind

More than just a successful author, Bret Easton Ellis is a leader of a new genre. Which earned him to appear in a group portrait titled generation survival, these young writers who are shaking up American literature. Published on March 22, 1996, this article recalls that, “At 31, ten years after his dazzling debut, Bret Easton Ellis seems to have gone through all the ups and downs possible. Already burned several times, it seems to be reborn each time with even more relevance”. The scandal now seems to accompany each of his books. “Once the indignation subsided, the main scandal of Bret Easton Ellis remains of course the agonizing neutrality of his style, observed The world on October 18, 1996, on the occasion of the publication of Zombies (Robert Laffont, 1996). Everything is young, American, violent, commercial, scandalous, with the minimum of stylistic effects. »

At the end of the century, French literature seems contaminated by this same symptom. These years are those of the consecration of the French Bret Easton Ellis, Frédéric Beigbeder. And the rise of Michel Houellebecq who compares himself, on the sidelines of the release of elementary particles, In The world September 18, 1998, to the American novelist: “Like Bret Easton Ellis in American Psycho, I bring bad news: and the bearers of bad news are seldom forgiven. I haven’t (yet?) received any death threats; remains that through my book something (a generation? a century? an economic system? a civilization?) felt judged. »

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