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Q&A with Bret Easton Ellis - Page 2

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Q: The book seems to suggest your identity as a writer is dependent on press, and that your career might be in need of resuscitation. Do you resent how you’ve been treated in the press, even as some suggest those relationships are something you have actively courted throughout your career? Who, ultimately, determines a writer’s fate? You? Your readers? The press? Your publisher?

A: Well, I’ll grudgingly admit that to some degree your identity as a writer is dependent on press—if people aren’t writing about the book, or are writing about it negatively or positively, I guess that can be influential to readers. But your identity as a writer is really based on the books themselves—by the things you’re interested in writing about. I would hope the books define you as a writer and not anything else. Look at the art not the artist.

My career in need of resuscitation? The press always seems to think that “my career”—something I don’t consider writing novels to be, since “career” suggests a plan and something far more within your control than the creation of books—is in need of resuscitation. It makes for a good story, I guess. I’ve only published five novels in twenty years, so if I really felt the need to be constantly out in public I would have forced myself to write more books—duh. And shorter, simpler books. But I’ve never felt that my career was in need of resuscitation.

The press has actually always treated me pretty fairly, so I don’t resent them; besides, you can’t really court the press. They write about who they want to write about. Critics, on the other hand, have been less kind, so I’m not sure if I resent them or not, but it’s obvious from how divisive my reviews are that I am not to everyone’s liking, and that’s something you just need to accept. A writer’s fate? That’s awfully dramatic. Who cares? And what does that mean? Their reputation? Not interested. If I had to answer that I guess it’s a combination of things: readers’ responses, the cultural moment, history. Things you can’t control, so why waste time worrying about them?

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