The Shards: A Novel
The Shards: A Novel by Bret Easton Ellis
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & Thrillers
No. of Pages: 741
Date of US Publication: 17 January, 2023
My Rating: 4 Stars
The 80’s have barely begun and new high school senior Bret, is just seventeen, and he and his clique of popular cool friends are already jaded, and coasting through life comfortably numb, until things start to get decidedly uncomfortable…
Way long, but pulled me under the bright-lights-of-LA-in-the-early-80’s vibe and I read it in far less time than I had originally anticipated. I watched almost nothing during my reading of this because I didn't want to stop reading - I needed to know. I haven't had this level of antsy excitement about a book in… I don't even know when the last time was.
Seductive, and immersive, heady and wonderfully atmospheric, these are but a few descriptors I can accurately use to describe what I just read. Speaking of, let me be among the many to congratulate the author on a seriously fantastic new novel.
The Shards has a strong recommendation from me, and I’m still not entirely sure what I just read - okay, I just read that this was originally published as a podcast, which I was completely unaware of (I haven’t yet found a podcast that I actually want to listen to, and I gave up looking a few years ago). This story in that format makes sense to me and in my thinking - I would probably recommend listening to the audiobook of this one, as it’s read by the author.
quotes that stood out for me - "Writing this now, I can't believe that I was left to my own devices for twenty minutes, just idly sitting there, thinking about things, about Thom and about Susan, waiting without a phone to look at, waiting without something to distract me."
"Matt had never felt about me the way I'd felt about him, which would be a recurring theme for the rest of my life, though, of course, I didn't know this yet on that September afternoon in 1981, when I was seventeen and still navigated on hope."
* in the novel, the author mentions a young actress killed by one of the chefs at Ma Maison chef- this was Dominique Dunne (daughter of Dominick and Ellen Dunne, niece of Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne), notably of Poltergeist. More can be read about her and what her family suffered in Dominick Dunne’s past writings as well as articles online.
Thank you to A.A. Knopf and NetGalley for the DRC!
Bret Easton Ellis’s masterful new novel is a story about the end of innocence, and the perilous passage from adolescence into adulthood, set in a vibrantly fictionalized Los Angeles in 1981 as a serial killer begins targeting teenagers throughout the city.
Seventeen-year-old Bret is a senior at the exclusive Buckley prep school when a new student arrives with a mysterious past. Robert Mallory is bright, handsome, charismatic, and shielding a secret from Bret and his friends even as he becomes a part of their tightly knit circle. Bret’s obsession with Mallory is equaled only by his increasingly unsettling preoccupation with the Trawler, a serial killer on the loose who seems to be drawing ever closer to Bret and his friends, taunting them—and Bret in particular—with grotesque threats and horrific, sharply local acts of violence. The coincidences are uncanny, but they are also filtered through the imagination of a teenager whose gifts for constructing narrative from the filaments of his own life are about to make him one of the most explosive literary sensations of his generation. Can he trust his friends—or his own mind—to make sense of the danger they appear to be in? Thwarted by the world and by his own innate desires, buffeted by unhealthy fixations, he spirals into paranoia and isolation as the relationship between the Trawler and Robert Mallory hurtles inexorably toward a collision.
Set against the intensely vivid and nostalgic backdrop of pre-Less Than Zero L.A., The Shards is a mesmerizing fusing of fact and fiction, the real and the imagined, that brilliantly explores the emotional fabric of Bret’s life at seventeen—sex and jealousy, obsession and murderous rage. Gripping, sly, suspenseful, deeply haunting, and often darkly funny, The Shards is Ellis at his inimitable best.
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