Bret Easton Ellis at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

Apr 28, 2010 by Lindsay Pullin

Every year, the LA Times teams up with UCLA for the annual Festival of Books.  I did attend this during my Junior year of high school at the prompting of my English teacher (and the promise of extra credit,) and found the entire experience both hot and exhausting.  Subsequently, I haven’t returned.

I was out of town when this year’s Los Angeles Times Sunday Calendar seciton announced the upcoming authors and events for this upcoming Festival of Books. Luckily, an event on the list was more than appealing for me, and was an event that I couldn’t miss.

That appealing draw happened to be in the form of Bret Easton Ellis, who rarely makes public appearances, but who was showing up to be interviewed by Erik Himmelsbach about his new book, "Imperial Bedrooms", his many other books, movies that have been based on his books, and his tweet on JD Salinger. 

Bret Easton Ellis, probably most famous for his controversial book "American Psycho", or perhaps the widely popular "Rules of Attraction", seems like a character out of his books.  Aloof, cynical, and not to be held responsible for anything he’s said in the past (and the present as well, as it was a Sunday morning he kept reminding us).  The audience ate it up, and the turn out was large..

Although it was meant only as an interview, Erik Himmelsbach didn’t really stand a chance against Ellis’ wry and at time, disarming wit.  He kept using his internet researched quotes to fish for Ellis’s opinion about this or that, and Ellis didn’t really seem to care about anything he’d said in the past. 

In fact, he seemed to down right disagree with the here and the now as opposed to what was and never to be. He made the point that there’s this interesting dichotomy: he is, most of the time, a normal guy, but he is also, sometimes, a famous author who must sit in front of a crowd of people and try very hard to answer questions on the spot. 

Everything he says is typically irrelevant, funny, intelligent, or poignant.  In a way, it reminds me of Patrick Bateman’s desire to fit in, of trying to be the man people assume he is.  Many of Himmelsbach’s questions warranted raised eyebrows, incredulous scrutiny, or one word answers.  And that was from the crowd. I assume that Ellis’ private life is not too different than most of ours.

Ellis comments were candid tangents. For instance, he was amused and distracted by the man sleeping in the audience.  He didn’t–and refused–to be held accountable for his Salinger tweet  ("Yeah!! Thank God he’s finally dead. I’ve been waiting for this day forever. Party tonight!!!"…although he swears he likes Salinger, Himmelsbach couldn’t coax him into saying anything else on the matter).

When I asked him why, as he was signing my copy of "American Psycho", he told me he "just wasn’t prepared".  So maybe it wasn’t the best interview “moment” I’ve ever had, but it was enjoyable because it was with Ellis, and although much of the topic discussed was Ellis’s new book "Imperial Bedrooms" (which is being released later this year, and therefore I would assume no one in the audience has read it) the promise of a new novel from an author that the audience clearly adores held interst and promise.

And in the true Los Angeles Festival of Books fashion, Ellis touted the appeal of books:

I don’t have a kindle…yet. I don’t have an iPad…yet.  I just like books. Maybe I’m old fashioned.

This got a round of applause, proving that the Festival of Books is still  relevant–by encouraging reading, and unabashedly celebrating a love of books.

Subscribe via RSSIf you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or bringing Travelin’ Local home with you via the RSS feed.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

Books, Culture, UCLA, Westside LA
No Responses to “Bret Easton Ellis at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books”

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv Enabled