Fashion Victims

The emphasis on names throughout Glamorama creates a literary effect somewhere between the catalogue of ships in Homer's Iliad and a pit-bull publicist's guest list. The casualties of the gruesome explosions are inventoried in the same laundry-list fashion, which tends to flatten out the book's emotional impact. We are invited to disengage like Victor. Ellis's voice—always on the verge of flippancy—captures fashion's endless capacity to turn everything it sees into a look, a fashion moment we quickly exchange for the next until we're numbed and agitated into a fickle state of restless desire.

All the name-dropping and product references give Glamorama an ultraqueeny veneer, and Ellis eventually takes us on an action-adventure tour of poststraight whoopie. The terrorism plot culminates with a fiesta of butch violence involving lots of guns, dismemberment, exploding bodies, and a long climactic sex scene between our hero and his narcissistic object choice: the alpha male of the terrorist supermodels. Glamorama takes the noir genre over the top, because in this case the boys actually do fuck each other rather than merely seething in the erotic tension that dare not speak its name. But Ellis isn't interested in distinguishing between straight and gay; rather, he captures a cultural moment of radical dandyhood, when distinctions of sexuality seem less important than whether you look like a model and wear Prada.


By Bret Easton Ellis
Knopf, 482 pp., $25
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In the end, Victor's visit to the fashion inferno results in an appropriately vapid makeover from chic playboy to chic fashionable law student: "'No more drinking binges, I've cut down on partying, law school's great, I'm in a long-term relationship.' I slip on a Brooks Brothers T-shirt. 'I've seriously stopped deluding myself and I'm rereading Dostoyevsky."' And his body fat's down to 7 percent. And he has a spiritual adviser named Deepak. Unfortunately, by this time you are so sick of the wanker you feel like a supermodel at the end of Fashion Week and you just wanna get outta there already. Even so, Ellis has almost certainly seduced you along the way; his impeccable portrait of high-living mannequins exudes a glamour as cold and pitiless and modern as Kate Moss's dead-guppy stare.

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