Passages of Writing: Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis

Book: Imperial Bedrooms, Bret Easton Ellis. 2010 Alfred A. Knoph.

Why:  When you think of describing fear, it’s not this that you think about but boy can you feel it, and see it.This is that fear/anxiety about life.

And, fear in, ‘spray-on tans and the teeth stained white.’ – perfect.

Texting is (naturally) creeping into modern books, but always seems so out of place, as though authors know they have to put it in as it’s what (most) people do (almost) everyday, but just can’t get it feeling natural. It’s perfect here, playing a kind of secondary narrative to the topic – fear.

It’s inspiring – off to pretend to be B.E.E. for a while now…..

When I scan the darkened room, smiling back at unfamiliar people, the fear returns and soon it’s everywhere and it keeps streaming forward: it’s in the looming success of the film we just watched, it’s in the young actors’ seductive questions about possible roles in ‘The Listeners’, and it’s in the texts they send walking away, their faces glowing from the cell light as they cross the cavernous lobby, and it’s in the spray-on tans and the teeth stained white. ‘I’ve been in New York the last four months’ is the mantra, my mask an expressionless smile.


Passages of Writing: Truth by Peter Temple.

Book: Truth, Peter temple. First pub: The Text Publishing Company 2009. This ed: The Text Publishing Company 2010. pbk.

Why: he could have said, ‘ran his fingers through his hair.’ Which is very boring. No, he was consulting his hair. They had a meeting. Stalling and having a think. Big difference.

‘Explain the building to me Mr. Manton, Just an outline.’

Manton’s right hand consulted his hair.


Passages of Writing: Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley

Book:  Point Counter Point, Aldous Huxley. First pub: Penguin 1928. This edition: Penguin 1974.

Why: I love the juxtaposition and banter of the two conversations at once, both ignoring the other. It’s how I plan to get my teenage children to their next immunizations. And, I hope to manage a similar interaction in my own book.

His terror, his anxious impatience became almost hysterical.

‘No. I can’t, I really can’t,’ he protested when Spandrell had told him that he must spend the evening at Tantamount House.

‘All the same,’ said the other, ‘you’re damned well going to,’ and he headed the car into the mall. ‘I’ll drop you at the door.’

‘No, really!’

‘And if necessary kick you in.’

‘But I couldn’t stand being there, I couldn’t stand it.’

‘This is an extremely nice car,’ said Spandrell pointedly changing the subject. ‘Delightful to drive.’

‘I couldn’t stand it,’ Illidge whimperingly repeated.

‘I believe the makers guarantee a hundred miles an hour on the track.’

They turned up past St James’s Palace into Pall Mall.

‘Here you are,’ said Spandrell, drawing up at the Kerb. Obediently, Illidge got out…


Passages of Writing: Lights Out in Wonderland by DBC Pierre.



Book: Lights Out in Wonderland, DBC Pierre. This ed. Faber 2010.


Why?:  Gabriel comes out of the text to speak to the reader, telling me to pay attention, so I do, and I’m possibly with him more than I might normally have been, because he asked me to. And I can hear it, smell it feel it more than I might have done had he not asked me to. It’s post-modern, meta-fiction again, but I have a fondness for it so it’s allowed.

The master Limbo is in charge of all our lives, so you can take it as meaning not even the author is in charge here, anything could happen. It’s one of my favourite books at the moment. These two paragraphs are poetic, like grand speeches that escalate to a final conclusion. It’s just a lot of fun to read. Make sure you don’t miss this bit in the second paragraph:

…I watch a tourist liner glide past the window leaking mercury and gold across the gelatinous whorls of the Spree…


In fact most of the book is a wonderful, poetic escape.



…and in the burning of a cigarette his Mercedes appears flashing through the traffic.

Only Bettina is inside, hair drawn up inside a chauffeur’s cap, a vision so ravishing, so bold and modern, that I must pause at the door, my friend and call you in close: step up with me, hear the throaty hiss of a perfect turbine, smell leather mix with musk see this spotless maiden masquerade as a man, as a servant, toying with it, with us, flashing dimples and teeth and clear eyes, and admit with me:

The Master Limbo gets some things rather right.


p 211, ‘Lights Out in Wonderland’, DBC Pierre


…we’re quickly assigned a table with a prime view. I watch a tourist liner glide past the window leaking mercury and gold across the gelatinous whorls of the Spree, and here, under flattering light, over linen and silver, I find a plane of well-being where I must pause, my friend, and call you in. Step close to these glowing linens, this sparkling glassware, snuffle this scent of hot food and vaporous wine, turn your ear to this elegant chatter between pleasant minds, and admit with me:

The Master Limbo gets some things rather right.


P167, ‘Lights Out in Wonderland’, DBC Pierre.

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