More noise than signal

The Informers — Bret Easton Ellis

You probably know what to expect from Ellis by this point; bleak indictments of the shallow, self serving, vapid nature that modern society seems to foist on us and worse still, encourage us to aspire to. An assortment of characters lead us through their internal monologues and lives in Los Angeles, never a great base from which to search for sanity, as they stumble through their privileged, sex ‘n’ drugs ‘n’ little else lives, largely either being miserable or actively spreading misery. With each chapter centred around a different character, who more often than not falls out of the novel entirely once we’re done with them, there’s little driving narrative to keep you turning the pages.

Instead, the commonality comes from a sense of deep, spiraling moral decay that gets progressively darker as it goes on. It starts by simply having vast swathes of chapters made up with inordinately large compound sentences of people’s story cojoined with ‘and then I…’ style links, which shows their self absorption and disregard for everyone else. Continuing and developing this vein, by the time it gets utterly, callously outrageous in the last few chapters it’s somehow not that much of a stretch to buy it.

The Informers is hardly enjoyable light reading, but it’s compellingly, leanly written and most importantly of all, gets you brain working a little. That’s sort of what we’re all after, isn’t it?