The Globe.com Chat Transcript
January 19, 1999
4juan - Hey Bret: My name is Marcelo, I live in Argentina, and I'd like to know whether you care about the translation of your work into other languages. I read American Psycho in Spanish for the first time, and a year later, I read it in its original language. There are strong differences in meaning, Bret! I think the Spanish translator wrote his own novel; the AP I read in Spanish is not what you wrote.
Bret_E_Ellis: Yes. I care very deeply. But, it's something that is usually out of my hands. Since I don't speak any other language, it's impossible for me to check the translation. I have heard this complaint before, and I am much more careful talking to my foreign publishers about carefully choosing translators than I once was. I also know that when I read a foreign writer translated into English that I'm missing something as well. Unfortunately, to get all the nuances that a writer places in a novel, you probably need to read them in their original language.
Americana71: Dear Bret, the vertical page numbers, the vertical Glamorama,
the shotgun cover, the chapter countdown, that's alotta revolutionary stuff
within one piece of novel. Was that all your idea?
Bret_E_Ellis: I wish I could take credit for the design of Glamorama. I must give credit where credit is due to the book's designer. A man named Chip Kidd, who designs wonderful covers and books for Random House in America.
Felicia89: Do you go online much?
Bret_E_Ellis: I live part of the year in New York and I live part of the year in Los Angeles. In LA I get online quite often because there is nothing else to do. In NY, I find myself rarely, if ever, online.
R0SEGIRL: Bret when is the book tour coming to NYC?
Bret_E_Ellis: The book tour, what my publishers are euphamistically calling the "Glamorama World Tour '99" will be in NYC on Friday, January 29th at The New School. There will be a screening "This Is Not An Exit". It's a BBC documentary made about me. I will be there to answer any and all questions.
Ninja_Girl: Less Than Zero will always be a favorite movie of mine.
Were you involved in the movie making part of it and what was the most important
lesson you learned from that experience?
Bret_E_Ellis: The most important lesson I learned from that experience was to be very careful who you sell the rights of your book to. I was not involved at all in the making of "Less Than Zero". I think I was still in college when the movie was in production. There are so few similarities between the movie version and the book, I don't think you can find a single scene or a single line of dialogue that corresponds to each other. They are that different. But, the soundtrack was cool, and I still think in some ways it has Robert Downey Jr.'s best performance.
Raskolnikov9: How have you changed since American Psycho? You seem
more content. Is this something you have had to fight for or something that
has happened with maturity?
Bret_E_Ellis: It's true. In some ways, I'm more content now than during the writing of that novel. I think the contentment is more a product of age rather than anything specific or particular that happened in my life. I think one's 20's are a very difficult time, regardless of who you are. They're fraught with insecurity and anxiety and fear and you just, as you get older, alot of that drops away. I think the world becomes a less confusing place. Therein lies the contentment. Also, just simply finishing a novel that took me 8 years to write was an accomplishment that I never thought I'd make. That also was a great source of relief to me.
Dreammm: Do you ever experience "writer's block" and if
so, how do you combat or recover from it?
Bret_E_Ellis: I don't think I've ever experienced writer's block, per se. But I do know that during the writing of "Glam-o-rama", and why it took so long to complete, is that a lot of distractions that were unforseen popped up. When real life gets in the way of completing a novel, I suppose that's a kind of writer's block. And the way that I dealt with it is letting time pass and drinking heavily. Which I don't necessarily recommend.
Raskolnikov9: How did you find the dramatisations of your work in
the This Is Not An Exit documentary ? They seemed very OTT...
Bret_E_Ellis: I think the main problem, one of many with the documentary, was definitely the dramatizations from my novels. I believe, wholeheartedly, the makers of that film believed in me and my work. They wanted to present me and my work in the best possible light. However, when I saw the dramatizations, I was really shocked that they didn't seem to really understand the work. The scenes seemed very shrill and overly dramatic, whereas I think my fiction tends to have a flatter, more compressed style. But, there are many other things that I'm not happy about in that film as well.
JCRALLEY: Are you familiar with the e-mail group called firstname.lastname@example.org,
that discusses you and your works? If so what do you think of us?
Bret_E_Ellis: I'm sorry to say that I haven't seen this yet. But I have just jotted down the address. And I will be checking it out. I'm always amused and flattered when people on the Internet discuss my work. I think that's very cool.
JCRALLEY: It doesn't appear as if you are making an extensive book
tour with your publication of Glamorama. I'm real disappointed that you really
won't be coming to Houston, since I have signed copies of all of your other
works. When do you think you'll come to Houston so I can get my copy of Glamorama
signed by you?
Bret_E_Ellis: Well, I know that I will be in Austin on the 10th of February at Book People, though I have a feeling this doesn't help much. I think perhaps on the second leg of the tour, I will make an effort and tell my publishers that I would like to stop into Houston. The second leg of the tour begins, unfortunately, in January 2000.
babyjx: You say that as you get older the world becomes a less confusing
place - you don't think that you just get used to it more and therefore more
Bret_E_Ellis: One person's serenity is another person's blase. I suppose you could call it that. But I think I was much more blase in many ways in my 20's that I am no longer blase about.
Raskolnikov9: Are your books (American Psycho and Glamorama in particular)
really highly metaphorical? It seems your admirers read more into your work
and your critics take it at face value. Do you feel that many of your critics
suffer from the same superficialty and "obsession with surfaces"
that your work seems to criticise?
Bret_E_Ellis: I think definitely the reaction to "American Psycho" at first is a prime example of what you are talking about. People assume that a description of an act of violence is in itself an act of violence and should be questioned and boycotted and banned. I think there is a part of the US literary establishment that tends to misread my books mainly because there is no authorial voice interuppting the purity of the narrator's voice. That leads some critics to suspect that I am condoning these often terrible crimes my characters commit.
angie155: Can you tell some more about your new book? I know it's
again about the darker side of people, but tell me why I should read it.
Bret_E_Ellis: Well, I hope someone should tell me why I'm going to write it, then I'll tell you why to read it. It's still in the planning stages this year. I won't get to the writing of it till much later. I can't really say too much about it, but I think it takes place in D.C. and Georgetown. And it will be tangentially about politics and the supernatural and be much more autobiographical than my previous books.
starrfirre: Which book people in Austin I too am in Houston and will
travel!!!! My boyfriend is originally from there and he is also wanting to
Bret_E_Ellis: That's great, but now that I'm looking at my schedule, it could be the 9th or 10th. As we get closer, call Book People and they will let you know which one.
sadge1127: What is your inspiration for your writing? does it come
from your own life experience?
Bret_E_Ellis: Well, the inspiration usually comes from - and this is because I'm a satirist - my annoyance from the culture and society at the moment. As a writer, I seem to respond to flaws in my generation that I see to be widespread and I react to them as a novelist. I have never really written, yet, an autobiographical novel. I don't think I can point to a single scene or character or line of dialogue from any of my books that comes from "real life". My passion, and why I'm moved to write novels, comes from some intuitive, impulsive place within me that I can't quite verbalize about. It's in many ways a mystery to me as well, which is why I'm interested in writing novels. In the process, is why I think, I try to solve that mystery.
naomi14: I have to know what Bret Easton Ellis thinks about this country's
sad state of affairs. Based on your writings, it appears as if you, for one,
could have guessed the public's indiscriminate need for sensationalism?
Bret_E_Ellis: You know, I don't look at myself as a sociologist or someone who can predict trends. I tend to think that the sad state of affairs in our current culture stem from basic and universal human flaws. I think they've always been around and always will be as long as we're here on this planet.
Bret_E_Ellis: Thank you everybody for coming. Try to make it to a bookstore if I'm in your town on that particular night. I don't bite.