The story is told in multiple points of view, each introduced by the narrator's name. There are no formal chapter headings.
Intriguingly, this novel parallels The Secret History by Donna Tartt. There is an oblique reference to it on page 160: "that weird Classics group (and they're probably roaming the countryside sacrificing farmers and performing pagan rituals)". Tartt and Easton Ellis knew one another.
When the novel starts Lauren is missing Victor, her boyfriend, who is spending a term in Europe (where he has slept around with both boys and girls, principally in order to find a bed for the night, or transport to his next bed, despite the fact that he is presumably sufficiently well off to be able to travel without worry). But Lauren's love for Victor doesn't stop her fancying Paul and sleeping with Sean.
Paul, though from time to time he sleeps with girls such as Lauren, is principally gay and has got a crush on Sean. He and Sean indulge in an affair lasting most of the second quarter of the book.
But Sean, who is dealing drugs and running up debts with the townie drug dealer, despite his private fortune and rich, dying father, is really not interested in Paul. He wants Lauren, with whom he has a relationship for the third quarter of the book. Sean is, initially, incredibly cynical and talks about "fucking" girls as if they were nothing more than the passive victims of his needs. He lies to Paul and finds Paul little more than a nuisance to be discarded as soon as he finds a love. Yet it is Sean who ends up jealous and heart-broken over Lauren and it is Sean who says: "If you can't make a girl come why even bother? That always seemed to me to be like writing questions in a letter." (p 139)
So Paul wants Sean who wants Lauren (triggered by the fact that he thinks she is the author of the love letters sent to him) who wants Victor. As Paul says near the end: "No one ever likes the right person." (p 261) Even the adults, as represented by the parents and teachers, flit from relationship to relationship, though they are rather more concerned with preserving a facade of respectability.
If anything it is about the cruelty of an object of desire when he or she is unaware (or doesn't care).
- "Beautiful, slow-witted Dance majors writhing about shamelessly." (p 21)
- "So much attention paid, so much detail studied, worked over so hard that he loses it all."
- "I sat there feeling like the hapless lover. But then I remembered, of course, that now I'm only hapless." (p 39)
- "It always seemed that there was just one minute left, all the time." (p 86)
- "I browse through the porno magazine rack that's placed next to the Oral Hygiene section." (p 215): This dates the novel to those last moments before internet pornography.
August 2019; 283 pages
Bret Easton Ellis also wrote:
Less Than Zero, his debut
American Psycho, narrated by Sean Bateman's elder brother Patrick, an investment banker (and serial kliller?) in Manhattan