The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis
After finishing The Silver Linings Playbook, I had a bit of a marathon read where I finished three books one right after the other. Each was very different from the one before it. Each I had very strong feelings towards (not all good, but not all bad either).
The first book from my marathon was The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis. Looking back, I’m not entirely sure if it was the right choice of book to follow The Silver Linings Playbook but it’s too late for that now. I really struggled with picking a book to read and chose Ellis’ book quite randomly. It’s always been a book I’ve wanted to read (I’ve never read any of his books before but he was an author that came up frequently in one of my college courses) and I thought “why not now?” Well, if I’m being completely honest, I think that I really wanted something that would fill the void that was left after Silver Linings. I wanted something heartfelt, maybe a little romantic. What I got were liberal arts college students having promiscuous sex, taking drugs and doing pretty much anything other than attending class. I’m afraid that my judgement was clouded by my Silver Linings hangover. Part of the reason why I haven’t blogged about The Rules of Attraction until now is that I wanted to let my thoughts settle in the hopes that I could let go of The Silver Linings Playbook and really just focus on Mr. Ellis’ novel. So, here goes nothing.
In looking back at The Rules of Attraction, I think it is a good book. Here’s the weird thing though, I didn’t really enjoy reading it. And yet, I kept reading it. There was just something about it that kept me coming back for more, and yet even when I finished, I couldn’t tell how much I really liked the book. I mentioned earlier in this post that all of the books I read recently gave me strong feelings. If I had to pick an emotion for this book, it would be “anxiety.” Honestly, reading about all of these kids and their lives at college gave me anxiety. I kept having these thoughts like “what are you doing with your lives?” and “if you don’t really like someone why do you keep sleeping with them over and over again?” I almost wanted to shake some sense into them. And yes, I feel like an old woman while writing this…
Putting aside my anxiety and concern about the youth presented in The Rules of Attraction I do have to mention how interesting and creative Easton’s writing style is. The way he is able to move between narrators is well crafted and leaves the reader to decide on the “real” reality of the situations presented. The problem is, I really want more of a story when it comes to the books I read. Ellis ultimately just serves up a chunk of time from the perspective of different students in college. There really is no beginning or end to the story. Yes I realize this is done on purpose. I can appreciate the style and the technique, but that doesn’t mean I have to love the book.
I would most certainly be lying if I said I loved every single book I read as an English major but I will always give credit where credit is due. Here, I think that Bret Easton Ellis deserves some credit. While The Rules of Attraction wasn’t my favorite cup of tea, I’m still happy I drank it. It is a well-written book that, even though isn’t quite my style, was worth reading for its style.