Christine Strelan- Between the Covers

Lunar Park

Brett Easton Ellis

Published by Picador

...all of it really happened, claims the author, ...every word is true. Yeah, right. Given the Belushi-sized quantities of drugs and alcohol ingested by our real-life narrator, its amazing he was capable of switching on his computer, let alone writing a novel.

After years of debauchery that makes Keith Richards look like a Jesuit, Mr Ellis (author of Less Than Zero and American Psycho) tries settling down with a wife and two kids in this bogus autobiography. Their affluent suburb is a Brave New World of social pressure and dysfunction. Every kid in the primary school is on medication; ...hes taking methylphenidate, says his dad, ...even though it really hasnt been approved for kids under six. My Drug Hell, by little Sarah.

There are five-year-olds with bodyguards and the P&C want bulletproof windows in the classrooms. Kindergarten kids have counsellors who make them self-actualise. The pressure to be all-American winners starts at birth.

The adults in this generic US town arent coping very well either. Even the sensible ones are guzzling prescription pills and secretly freaking out because their families arent perfect achievers. No wonder it all gets a bit Poltergeist. Supernatural forces begin messing with the dream home, and we wonder: exactly what drugs is this guy on? Why do those little boys keep disappearing? And how can any of us guarantee the safety of our children?

We know our vodka-swilling, coke-snorting narrator is in real trouble when characters from earlier books begin invading his life. Hes got enough to worry about without Mr American Psycho turning up at his house.

Ellis angst is levened with black humour. Despite the games he plays with his readers (is it true? is it not true?) I found Lunar Park funny and engaging and there is enough humanity in the novel to make us care about these poor little rich fools. Id like to invite them all to my place for a holiday. Get those kids hooked on fresh vegies and playing in puddles, show them how much low-income fun were all having here on the North Coast, and theyll never need sedatives again.

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