Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

Truly, there is nothing new left to say about Bret Easton Ellis’s generation-defining novel, Less Than Zero. And, despite having a bunch of options for week one of Novellas in November, I decided to re-read Less Than Zero, purely because I am absolutely engrossed in the podcast Once Upon a Time at Bennington College (to the point where I’m waiting for each new episode to drop). The podcast examines the years that Ellis, Donna Tartt and Jonathan Lethem were at college together, and specifically, the people and events that inspired characters in both Less Than Zero and The Secret History.

So, this is not a review but rather a collection of Less-Than-Zero-associated-thoughts: Continue reading

Novellas in November

Novellas in November is hosted by Cathy of 746 Books and Rebecca of Bookish Beck.

Cathy and Rebecca have set a category for each week – there are no rules as such (although they suggest that 150–200 pages is the upper limit for a novella, and post-1980 as a definition of ‘contemporary’).

I’m going to use Novellas in November to whip through some of my towering TBR stack. I have lots to choose from. Here are the possibilities: Continue reading

Second Place by Rachel Cusk

Second Place was my introduction to Rachel Cusk. I quickly became engrossed in the story and wondered why I had expected her writing to be impenetrable. Where had this impression come from? Other readers? Reviews? Her regular appearance on literature award lists? Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised – no, relieved – to find Second Place highly ‘readable’. No persistence required. Continue reading

Joan Smokes by Angela Meyer

I rarely write standalone reviews for novellas, but Joan Smokes by Angela Meyer, has lingered in a way that I didn’t quite expect.

The story begins in Vegas, where ‘Joan’, is starting over – she buys a new dress; dyes and curls her hair; and begins smoking – all suited to a woman named ‘Joan’, she decides. She finds a job waitressing; allows herself to be distracted by the neon lights of Vegas; and does her best to forget the past, notably her relationship with a man named Jack.

She refuses to feel sad… but something happens to her physically. Ache is too soft a word. Continue reading