Ellis (American Psycho, not reviewed, etc.) beats a dead horse in yet another self-consciously cool look at wealthy Los Angelenos taking drugs and having meaningless sex in the '80s. Matters are confused by the fact that this group of short stories, connected only in the sense that they sometimes share minor characters (i.e., several characters are in contact with the same drug dealer) and by a constant repetition of theme, is labeled "a novel" by the publisher. In "The Up Escalator," a woman having an affair with the son of a friend visits her psychiatrist for a Librium refill but has to sit through his unprofessional description of a party with high-profile guests. A student taking time off from Camden (the Bennington stand-in in Ellis's The Rules of Attraction, 1987) writes "Letters From L.A." to a crush back at school who apparently never answers her missives about "totally rad" parties. There is also plenty of gratuitous violence: "Danny is on my bed and depressed because Ricky was picked up by a break-dancer at the Odyssey on the night of the Duran Duran look-alike contest and murdered," So begins "Water from the Sun," which gives a play-by-play description of a dying relationship between a 19-year-old and his female newscaster lover. In "The Secrets of Summer," a story reminiscent of American Psycho, a man/vampire tells how he picks women up in bars, lures them home by promising them cocaine, then bleeds them. All of Ellis's characters use the same flat voice and refuse to involve themselves in anything, like the rock star in "Discovering Japan" who drugs himself senseless in Tokyo and has the following exchange: "'Yeah.' Matt sighs. 'You've got a point.' 'Because I don't care, man.' 'I guess I don't care either, man.' I hang up, pass out." Empty writing about empty lives. Who cares, Bret?