” The alarm goes off at eleven. A song called Artificial Insemination is playing on the radio and I wait until it’s over to open my eyes and get up . . . I walk to the closet and look at my face and body in the mirror; flex my muscles a couple of times, wonder if I should get a haircut, decide I do need a tan. Turn away and open the envelope, also hid beneath the sweaters. I cut myself two lines of the coke I bought from Rip last night and do them and feel better. ” 
Los Angeles in 1980s. Clay comes home for Christmas vacation from college in New Hampshire and plunges into a spree of social orgies, sex, drugs, careless living, debauchery, and disaffection at too early an age. At the center of the novel with Clay are a daughter of a film producer, Blair, for whom Clay tries to renew his feelings; and his best friend, Julian, who is careering into hustling and dealing heroin. Their social circle comprises of late-teenage kids of the privileged class who live in the seamy world of LA after dark.
It’s a Saturday night and on some Saturday nights when there’s not a party to go to and no concerts around town and everyone’s seen all the movies, most people stay home and invite friends over and talk on the phone. 
Less Than Zero is a very disturbing novel with this incessant cycle of relentless parties in glitzy mansions, seedy bars, and underground rock clubs. The moral entropy documented in the book might be exaggerated, but it is very much aligned with the vain and corrupted personalities that populate the reality shows on television nowadays. Ellis intentionally creates a merry-go-around of cast that, other than spending too much money on everything, roaming mindlessly in wee hours, parading from one party to the next, is unforgettable , not for who they are but for what they do, because they are without substance. They belong to the lost generation that says “I don’t know” to almost every question imposed to them—they’re beyond confused. The back of the book pronounces that this novel is The Catcher in the Rye for the MTV generation. Neither of the two is lofty in words. If The Catcher in the Rye is misanthropic, Less Than Zero is a justification of that misanthropy—the characters and deeds are unsympathetically despicable. Never has Hollywood’s much-coveted success and high life looks so frightening in a work of contemporary literature. It’s a moral lesson in a detached, apthetic voice. Which brings me to a question I’ve pondering over the weekend: how would you rate a book that documents an era so effectively and yet the plot is a pack of nothingness?
209 pp. [Read/Skim/Toss] [Buy/Borrow]