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Slouching Towards Zero

December 06, 1987

Having seen the movie version of "Less Than Zero" and having read a review that claimed the film makers had taken out all of Bret Ellis' "anthropological detail," I decided to judge for myself and read the novel. By coincidence I was also picking my way through a collection of essays by Joan Didion. This is from her 1967 essay "Slouching Towards Bethlehem":

She is telling about somebody who propositioned her yesterday. "He just walked up to me on the street, offered me six hundred dollars to go to Reno and do the thing."

"You're not the only one he approached," Deadeye says.

And this is from "Less Than Zero":

"Some guy propositioned me today," Rip is saying, walking into the living room. "He just came up to me in Flip and offered me six hundred dollars to go to Laguna with him for the weekend."

"I'm sure you're not the only guy he approached," Trent says . . . .

Is this some kind of homage? Or is Bret Ellis the Joe Biden of trendy young novelists? Maybe he'd better drop out of the race to be the voice of his generation.

ROBERT BENSON

Santa Monica

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