One can only hope Ellis intends his latest effort to be a comedy. To read it any other way is to be engulfed by a bleak and cynical vision, an excruciating brand of literary monotony.
The Informers centers on a group of upper-middle-class Los Angeles folk—students, studio execs, rock stars, wives, mistresses and even vampires—with too much time and money on their hands. Suffering from angst and ennui, they take turns narrating chapters in which nothing adds up—save for an array of drugs like cocaine, heroin, lithium and thorazine that by page 50 of this exhausting tale have been ingested by one and all. Ellis, the controversial author of American Psycho, has both expanded and watered down his previous themes. The senseless violence is here but presented without a point of view. "Jesus, his parents had the wake at Spago, for Christ sakes," says Dirk, one of many interchangeable characters, about a friend killed in a car crash. Utterly self-referential, Ellis makes no room for readers who don't know that Spago is a hip L.A. eatery. The Informers doesn't so much inform as pollute the reader—giving new meaning to the phrase "terminally hip." (Knopf, $22)