Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Blank Fiction and the Blank Generation | Less Than Zero

Blank Fiction and the Blank Generation - Less Than Zero

From the book Historical Dictionary of Postmodernist Literature and Theater, the term ‘Blank Fiction’ is “a name given to a form of fiction that developed in the United States in the 1980s that charted the experiences of the “blank generation”, a term used to refer to a group of young people, predominantly from wealthy white families, whose life of privilege seemed to lead to affectless behaviour and cultural alienation” (Mason, 42).

As follows, this theology is echoed in Bret Easton Ellis’ work Less Than Zero as Mason points out, is the paradigmatic text of blank fiction. For the protagonist, Clay is from that definitive wealthy white [but ‘must-be’ tanned] family and in so much live a relatively privileged lifestyle; “I walk upstairs, past the new maid” (Easton Ellis, 10). Continuously, blank fiction centres on the blank generation and for the most part presents their life “as an endless cycle of consumption (of commodities and experiences) that is made possible by extreme wealth” (Mason, 42). Clay and his friends are living just as this; they drive around in their expensive cars, go to boozy, sex and drug fuelled parties that seem to only encourage their lavish and sumptuous lifestyles.

But with this comes disastrous consequences that threaten their normality and more often than not their livelihood. For as we see death and tragedy catches up with those who underestimate the addiction that comes with keeping up the extravagant routines; “Muriel holds the syringe and Kim whispers, “Don’t do it”, …..I can make out the beginning of a smile…and as the needle sticks into Muriel’s arm, Blair gets up and says, “I’m leaving,”…Muriel closes her eyes and the syringe slowly fills with blood” (Easton Ellis, 86) And likewise “Two girls come out of the darkness of the alley, giggling and holding onto each other… “What happened to him?” “O.D.’d, I guess.”…He’s lying against the back wall, propped up. The face belongs to some young eighteen-, nineteen- year old boy…Spin kneels down and looks into the boy’s face and studies it earnestly. Trent starts to laugh and lights up a joint” (Easton Ellis, 186/7).

As the book describes, the reaction to the death of someone they do not know, is that of laughter. This shows just how lenient and unfased some of the characters have become to class A drugs; an overdose happens to be a commonality, so much so that it becomes a source of entertainment.

Original book cover of Bret Easton Ellis' Less Than Zero

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Sources:
Mason, F. (2007). Historical Dictionary of Postmodernist Literature and Theater. Maryland; USA:  Scarecrow Press.
Easton Ellis, B. (1985). Less Than Zero. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc.

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