Stress, loneliness, depression, boredom—the madness of everyday life. Ever-greater levels of sadness, implying a recognition, on the visceral level at least, that things could be different. How much joy is there left in the technological society, this field of alienation and anxiety.
John Zerzan


The Shards [Book Review]

I recently finished reading The Shards – a new novel by Bret Easton Ellis.
Before now, I’d only read his first novel, Less Than Zero, and his infamous American Psycho. Both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. I read both of these books several years ago, and since then I have always intended to read more of his work but never really got around to it until the American author released this new work of auto-fiction. It took me a while to read, not just because it’s rather long, but because I wanted to savour the atmosphere and feeling that Ellis sustains throughout the story.

In The Shards – Bret Ellis – now in his mid fifties- reflects on events that have haunted him since his senior year at Buckley High School.
The story is set in 1981; the young Bret Ellis and his friends are the sons and daughters of LA’s social elite. They live a lifestyle of wealth and excess. They wear designer clothes, drive expensive cars, frequently attend parties, and have easy access to drugs at all times.
The city of Los Angeles is being prayed upon by The Trawler, a sadistic serial killer who stalks his victims, breaking into their homes and stealing their pets before kidnapping and, of course, killing them. As well as a hippie cult that emerges from the mountains to embark on a campaign of harassment and vandalism.
At the start of the new school year, Robert Mallory transfers to Buckley High and quickly infiltrates Bret’s tightly knit social circle.
Bret quickly becomes suspicious of Robert – rightly believing that he’s not exactly who he seems to be – and begins to investigate his new class mate. 
Bret, however, is hiding secrets of his own. His girlfriend, The popular Debbi Schaffer, has no idea that he’s actually gay and having affairs with two male classmates.
These are secrets he can’t let anyone else know. He can’t disrupt the social norms of life at Buckley High – something that does eventually becomes disrupted as Bret slowly learns the truth about Robert. 

Ellis manages to paint a vivid picture of the era and the city of Los Angeles as he lists the familiar names of streets, bars, and restaurants. As I previously stated, he manages to maintain a certain atmosphere throughout the fairly long book—a wild cocktail of desire, detachment, paranoia, jealousy, and suspicion—which occasionally verges on psychedelic, like a bad trip with an 80s soundtrack.
The Shards is a coming of age story from hell.