Bret Easton Ellis and a writerly weekend

american psychoI had to laugh when an audience member got to ask a question of Bret Easton Ellis and opened by telling him that she, like many in the audience, was an inner-city hipster and out here on a Friday night and her students were kinda dumbstruck by that and didn’t even know who he was. I’m glad she’s in touch with her self-categorisation, her calendar and her righteous outrage that the young’uns don’t share her taste in authors. The audience questions were, by and large, infantile and embarrassing, mostly concerned with being twee and trying to suck Ellis’s dick and do drugs with him, not necessarily in that order, which only made me appreciate his performance all the more. And it was a performance, one that reminded me a bit of Lunar Park in which the lead character is called Bret Easton Ellis, the guy who wrote American Psycho, but it’s not really him, is it …

I felt a little more sorry for Alan Brough, conducting the interview at the grand ol’ Athenaeum: this was the last night of Ellis’s Aussie tour and he was really interested, kind of, in deconstructing the whole book tour thing. I think. Ellis was hard to know, based on that performance: charming and assured, happy to ramble regardless of the question, and often reflecting on the evening’s Q&A as though something of a spectator himself. Here’s a writer still living in the shadow of American Psycho, who might possibly only be judged by that book, though I enjoyed his (much later) Lunar Park much more. The Delta Goodrem saga reared its head, a reminder of how shallow our interests are, and how easily Twitter allows us to prove it (really: why would a comment about enjoying a music clip spark such outrage?).

For the writers in the audience, I got this out of it: Ellis says the novel’s evolving, he prefers working on television as a story-telling device, that obsession is a key driver for writers (once a story gets into your head, you have to write it eg his most recent, Imperial Ballrooms).

Slippery, Ellis, but enjoyable and slick and I suspect he gave the inner city hipsters what they wanted (blow and blow job aside).

Anyway, it was a good springboard into the weekend, spent in front of a wood fire not far from a rather windy, rainy, weed-strewn beach on Phillip Island, where the coffee pot ran hot and the ideas dribbled onto the keyboard in chaotic fashion. Today was largely a wash, spent mostly on the couch with a book, but that’s important too: downtime, a chance for the noggin to relax and kick things around behind the scenes, and guilt-free, despite the sound of two other keyboards tap-tap-tapping and word counts being bandied around like some kind of auction. All in all, a very pleasant, writerly weekend, a fine priming for a week of words (I hope!).

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