The Informers is like the sick love-child of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio and Nathanael West’s Day of the Locust. While this collection of interweaving short stories is not as shocking or subversive as, say, Glamorama, it is equally blunt in it’s chastisement of Hollywood glitz & glam phoniness (like Holden Caufiled on crack). Ellis’s dystopic vision of Hollywood is a contemporary re-imagining of what West did with Day of the Locust, and of what Bukowski did with Ham on Rye. It’s as honest as John Fante’s Ask the Dust in it’s critique of “west coast envy.” What Ellis does truly brilliantly, I think, is presenting believable (most of the time) characters who truly feel blessed and “happy” to be living in L.A., yet the reader gets a look at what’s going on under the surface, and it is not pretty. The vampires were a stretch, and the child murder was terrifying, but combined and/or inter-mixed with the rest of the more believable shorts – a father trying to reconnect with his son, a mother lusting over young (young) men, a wannabe rockstar abusing his female fans – sexually and physically, well, you get the point that this is L.A. and that the fantasy is fresh, fun, beautiful, but the reality is dark, disturbing, and dangerous. I’m not sure there’s been a more on-the-money satirist since Mark Twain or Jane Austen – if only they had been more free to express themselves.
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You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence. Octavia E. Butler
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