Breaking all the ‘Rules’

Imagine reading something at the speed of life, having it come alive in front of your eyes. Experience a book that reads like nothing you have ever read, yet at the same time, has a story that is so familiar to us all. Read “The Rules of Attraction,” by Brett Easton Ellis, and you’ll never read a novel the same way again.

As you being reading, it seems as if the first twelve pages are simply torn out. At least that’s what I assumed when I first opened the book. The concept of “Rules” beginning mid-sentence on page 13 hooked me immediately. The red flag is thrown up as a warning, to let you know that you are in for something totally different and eccentric.

Set in the tumultuous mid-Reagan era circa 1980s, at a small, New England liberal arts college, “Rules” is a vivid portrait of the loss of innocence and the absence of true romantics. Based around three sexually and chemically experimental students at Camden College, Ellis paints a picture of the youth we lose and the experience we gain as we grow apart from the lives we’re accustomed to.

The book is a simple, plausible story of love triangles, never-ending parties, promiscuous sexual exploration with exploitation, and self-reflection spiked with realization.

However, a simple story of these three people with the injection of some minor characters, is made vivid and amazingly real when read in it’s in its original text. Ellis jumps, simultaneously, in and through each character’s daily trials.

As you finish the chapter about Sean (a drug-dealing swindler) and his night with Lauren (the desireable hipster who is in love with her ex boyfriend) in Manhattan, you start the next chapter backtracking to three days earlier in Boston with Paul (sexually confused, yet a passionate person). Paul leaves the side of a boy he thinks he might be in love with, ending the chapter somewhere between his infatuation and confusion.

As life exists in moments, and not in chapters, Ellis forces us to draw a mental picture of these instances intertwining in moments as they do in life.

“Rules” is one of the funniest, most poignant and finest books I have ever set my mind to reading. An honest, beautiful, and quite often hilarious look at the process of growing up and the people who deal with it define this must-read.