A Hipster Recommends

A Hipster Recommends: The Rules of Attraction

“and it’s a story that might bore you but you don’t have to listen.”


Gripped from the first line (that begins mid-sentence), I was 17 and depressed and this probably wasn’t the best induction back into the world of reading for pleasure.

I mean it was good. It’s still one of my favourite books.

Bret Easton Ellis has a way of leeching my happiness. My inner monologue takes on the voice of his nihilistic characters and the world seems pointless yet again. My fiance can tell when I’m reading a book by him, a dark cloud looms then lifts when I’m done.

The Rules of Attraction isn’t particularly harrowing or depressing when taken at face value. I mean, there is a rape, but it’s a casual one. If I have to read about a rape that’s crucial to a story, I’d prefer it to be casual. Too harrowing and it stays with me. Blasé and I forget quickly, just like the fictional assailant.

Written in a multi-narrative format, it enables you to see what the characters are thinking without pushing terrible exposition onto the reader. It’s easier to follow than some multi-narrative books I’ve read because each narrative shift is labelled.

The plot can only be described loosely (as is often the case with literary fiction) as following the lives of some nihilistic rich kids who attend a liberal arts college in the 80’s. My interpretation is that they all mostly have a terrible time, no one’s life improves and no character improves. I like that. I despise a contrived happy ending and if you’re reading this book then I can’t imagine you were looking for one anyway.

It’s a book you won’t be able to put down but you’ll also probably be confused as to why. It’s not action packed. It’s miserable and real and relatable in places. These people could be you. They probably have been your friends at some point in your life.

If you don’t mind the possibility of feeling a bit down while your reading, then it’s worth giving this book a go. It’s beautifully written.

They made a film adaptation of it starring James Van Der Beek (the Beek from the Creek for those of you who are old enough to remember Dawson’s Creek) which is actually really good. I know there’ll be purists out there who think film adaptations are never as good as any book they have read but if you expect it to be a little different then you’ll really enjoy it. I particularly like the soundtrack. The suicide scene is done really well too (this isn’t a spoiler, there’s so many characters, it could be anyone).

I’m not doing it justice.  Read it yourself.

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