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Bookmarks Issue: 
19-Nov-Dec-2005
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A-LunarParkBret Eason Ellis became the bestselling novelist of American Psycho while still in college. In this fictional retelling of his drug- and booze-filled young adulthood and his second chance at life, Ellis relates the plight of a famous writer living in the suburbs, attempting to make a clean break from his past and reconcile with his B-list actress-wife and son. When strange spirits begin to haunt his house and family and a stalker targets his victims (just as in American Psycho), Ellis struggles to guard his loved ones against impending violence.
Knopf. 320 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0375412913

Miami Herald 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Encapsulating his entire body of work in its themes and particulars, Lunar Park finds Ellis baring his soul without the protective buffers of irony, cynicism or detachment. The book is from the heart, by an author often accused of not having one." Rene Rodriguez

Rocky Mountain News 3.5 of 5 Stars
"His setup sounds like the perfect grist for some of the author’s unsparing satire, but something else is afoot here: Call it a satirical horror-confessional. . . . The final shocker is that this mixed-up book not only works, but it is also creepy and compelling entertainment." Traver Kauffman

Oregonian 3 of 5 Stars
"He fuses the black humor, the self-mockery and the raw intensity of terror into a compelling emotional roller-coaster ride that seems to reflect a longing for the bonds of family and a desire to take on adult responsibility." Damian Kilby

Plain Dealer 2.5 of 5 Stars
"[Lunar Park] . . . is an utter failure as Shakespearean tragedy. Even though Hamlet was whiney and self-absorbed, his father had been murdered; and if Rosencrantz and Guildenstern had not been so ineffective, he would have been, too. The fictional Ellis at the heart of this novel faces similar threats, only they are phantoms of his well-sozzled cranium." John Freeman

Los Angeles Times 2 of 5 Stars
"There are Big Ideas here, about fathers and sons, about the responsibilities of the writer, about the interaction of imagination and reality. . . . Trusting readers may accept this public therapy session as sincere, but it feels more like another chapter in the book of Ellis’ egomania." Janice P. Nimura

Washington Post 2 of 5 Stars
"[I]f Ellis had stuck to a single supernatural trope, he might have written a genuinely scary book. Instead, he tosses together so many hoary genre elements that the novel begins to resemble a middle-aged yuppie rehash of a Hammer Horror film, less The Turn of the Screw than ‘Heart of Dorkness.’" Elizabeth Hand

Baltimore Sun 1 of 5 Stars
"Ellis, one of whose Brets admits to a taste for Stephen King, has pilfered one of the master’s favorite plots: the author destroyed by his own creations. . . . Only of one thing we can be sure: He does a terrible Stephen King." Lizzie Skurnick

NY Times Book Review 1 of 5 Stars
"The problem is that [the novel] does not have the honesty to admit that it wants to be more, the faith that readers will accept more or the courage to try to be more. It is the portrait of a narcissist who is, in the end, terminally bored with himself; that it may also be a self-portrait doesn’t make it any more true." A.O. Scott

Boston Globe 0.5 of 5 Stars
"Ellis has made a career out of lazy nihilism and gratuitous viscera, and Lunar Park marks the apotheosis of that career. It is by far the worst novel he has ever written. It may be the worst novel I’ve ever read." Steve Almond

Critical Summary

Easton’s device of inserting himself into the novel compares unfavorably with Philip Roth’s Zuckerman Unbound, while Peter Straub and Stephen King used a similar gimmick more effectively than Ellis does. Some readers enjoyed Lunar Park as a straightforward horror story, but most felt that it was trite and clichéd. The strong autobiographical beginning unravels and loses its way as it transitions into fiction. There are some very funny scenes, including ones that lampoon the medicated underside of upper-middle-class suburban life. Many resent the undeserved success that Random House’s all-out promotion will inevitably bring to this book. If you dislike Ellis for his celebrity and his previous work, take a pass.

Also by the Author

American Psycho (1991): Pat Bateman, a 26-year-old well-groomed Wall Street yuppie, is not what he seems to be as he inexplicably stalks his victims and murders them, one by one.