Category Archives: Reviewed by Govie

Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

Set in affluent Los Angeles, it is a raw and powerful portrayal of a generation of young people who have experienced sex, drugs and disaffection at too early an age.  Clay, coming home to Los Angeles for Christmas vacation following his first semester at an Eastern college, tries to make sense of the life he left behind.   Clay’s holiday turns into a dizzying spiral of desperation that takes him through the rich suburban homes, the relentless parties, the seedy bars, and glitzy rock clubs.   A shocking coming-of-age novel about the casual nihilism that comes with youth and money, Less Than Zero marked the stunning debut of the first voice of a new generation, Bret Easton Ellis.   It was also adapted into a movie in 1987, starring Andrew McCarthy, Robert Downey Jr., Jami Gertz, and James Spader.

Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis

Bret Easton Ellis’ debut, Less Than Zero, is one of the signal novels of the last thirty years, and he now follows those infamous teenagers into an even more desperate middle age.  Clay, a successful screenwriter, has returned from New York to Los Angelos to help cast his new movie, and he’s soon drifting through a long-familiar circle.  Clay’s demons emerge once he meets a gorgeous young actress determined to win a role in his movie.  When his life careens completely out of control, he has no choice but to plumb the darkest recesses of his character and come to terms with his proclivity for betrayal.

Elegies For the Brokenhearted by Christie Hodgen

Who are the people you’ll never forget?  For Mary Murphy, there are five:  A skirt-chasing, car-racing uncle with whiskey breath and a three-day beard.  A “walking joke, a sitting duck, a fish in a barrel” named Elwood LePoer.  A dirt-poor college roommate who conceals an unbearable secret.  A failed piano prodigy lost in middle age.  A beautiful mother haunted by her once-great aspirations.  In five quirky elegies to lost friends and relatives, Mary tells us the story of her life.  With a rhythmically unique voice and pitch-perfect wry humor, Christie Hodgen spins an unconventional and moving story about identity, belonging, and family.

I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb

Domminick Birdsey’s entire life has been compromised and constricted by anger and fear, by the paranoid schizophrenic twin brother he both deeply loves and resents, and by the past they shared with their adoptive father, Ray, a spit-and-polish ex-Navy man, and their long suffering mother, Concettina, a timid woman with a harelip that made her shy and self-conscious.  Dominick’s talent for survival comes at an enormous cost, including the break-up of his marriage.  And his talent for survival will be put to the test when Thomas, his paranoid schizophrenic twin, commits an unthinkable act that threatens the tenuous balance of both his and Dominick’s lives.  It’s a deeply moving and thoroughly satisfying novel that brings to light humanity’s deepest needs and fears, our aloneness, our desire for love and acceptance, and our struggle to survive at all costs.

The Living Dead Girl: A Novel by Elizabeth Scott

When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends– her life.  She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain.  She waited for the nightmare to be over.   Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for.  She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.  This is a story that truly sticks with you long after you put it down.

Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho

“What is real?  It’s what you are, not what others make you.”  Twenty-four-year-old Veronika isn’t pleased with her life.  Not to say that she doesn’t have an overall desired life.  She’s young, attractive, and well loved, but something is missing.  And on November 11, 1997, Veronika decides to die. Taking a handful of sleeping pills, though, does not do the trick, and she wakes up at a local mental hospital with severe damage to her heart.  Although she made it through her suicide attempt, her heart is so damaged that she only has a few days to live.  It is in those days that Veronika really decides to live for the first time.