White: Nonfiction by Bret Easton Ellis

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Release Date: 
April 16, 2019
Reviewed by: 

“White is a refreshing read because it’s just so full of rage. It’s almost as if Patrick Bateman, Ellis’ anti-hero from American Psycho, had decided to become a writer instead of a serial killer.” 

Who doesn’t love a good rant, especially one that’s well-written? If you answered yes and you’ve had your fill of millennials and PC culture and angry liberals who suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome, then you’ll find some comfort from the like-minded Bret Easton Ellis.

Ellis is best known for his disaffected-youth novels like Less Than Zero and American Psycho, but he’s been in training to write a book of this sort ever since he embraced Twitter culture a few years back. In a way, White is like a long Twitter rant without the benefit of having 140-character limit.

At the same time, the book is reminiscent of Curb Your Enthusiasm except the curmudgeon here is Ellis, not Larry David, and we’re reading about his life rather than watching it.

Still, the similarities are there. Ellis uses whatever is happening in his life, whether it be turning his novel American Psycho into a Broadway musical or being disinvited from a gay awards dinner, into fodder for his amusing diary of life as a well-known person on Twitter.

Any number of Ellis’ anecdotes begin with a dinner he’s having in Hollywood, Los Angeles, or New York with companions who either secretly support President Trump or hate him beyond all bounds. Either way, Ellis is good chronicler or our divided times.

He recounts one dinner from the spring of 2017 with two friends, one he’s known for 30 years. The dinner in question started with drinks being served “when one of them muttered darkly about whatever Trump had ‘fucked up’ that day. When I countered with something noncommittal about the day’s events or perhaps offered another opinion . . . they both lost their shit and became infuriated, lashing out at me in ways I’d never seen from either of them.”

The outraged friends then took the usual raging lefty position that Trump had not won the election. Ellis countered that there was this thing called the Electoral College. “One of them said the Electoral College was bullshit and that Los Angeles and New York should determine who ‘the fucking president’ is. ‘I don’t want any goddamn know-nothing rural hicks deciding who the president should be,’ he growled. ‘I am a proud liberal coastal elite and I think we should pick the president because we know better.’”

Ellis says his blood froze, but one suspects by now that it has warmed up because you don’t need to spend a lot of time in the liberal bubble universe to know that’s how many elites feel, although many are loathe to admit it out loud.

Make no mistake—this is a very political book, and one suspects Ellis will soon be a guest on Fox News. As for his guest spot on the Rachel Maddow Show, he shouldn’t wait for the call. Consider this rant:

“The country often felt like a demented high school where the losers in the student body were throwing everything they could at whoever had been elected class president just to see what might stick . . . this was the dynamic, as I noted before, that kept turning Trump into the biggest underdog we’ve ever seen. The constant comparisons of him to Hitler, and of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the Gestapo, was for me the last straw—after almost two years of the let’s-wait-and-see-if-everyone-can-calm-the-fuck-down hiatus I’d maintained until the late summer of 2018, when I couldn’t calm the fuck down anymore. And a new irony had entered the picture: I was now hearing about how irritating the Left had become from people on the Left.”

One suspects Ellis is not having an easier time of it in the aftermath of the Mueller Report as each side is more dug in than ever.

Above all, White is a refreshing read because it’s just so full of rage. It’s almost as if Patrick Bateman, Ellis’ anti-hero from American Psycho, had decided to become a writer instead of a serial killer.