I thought I’d write this, seeing that I’m a real-life Bret Easton Ellis tribute act with that tattoo and everything, so why not.
I don’t know if I should assume that everyone who comes across this page knows everything about London Preppy, so here’s a brief history:
- I kinda like Bret Easton Ellis’ books
- At one point I got a tattoo of his name on my arm
- At another point I got another tattoo referencing Less Than Zero, my favourite book of his
- A couple of years ago BEE was giving an interview and he brought me up as an example of a super-fan or something, I guess
The whole tattoo thing has been quite divisive, not because there are no other people out there with writers’ names tattooed on them, but, I suppose, mainly because BEE is still alive and active, which makes my choice a little creepy. It’s probably fine to have Shakespeare or Kafka or Nietzsche tattooed on you, because these people are dead and it’s not like you’re ever likely to meet them.
On the other hand, people also get tattoos of singer or band names on them all the time and these singers or bands are very much alive, but somehow this comes across as more normal. I don’t know why and I don’t care much.
I’ve said before that I didn’t actually have some burning desire to meet Bret (like I don’t really have a burning desire to meet anyone, because meeting anyone is very stressful and you have to talk and things, which I’m not good at), but as it happens I actually went to a book signing for Imperial Bedrooms last year and met him there. And here’s how that went.
My friend Enid sent me a message in July last year telling me that Bret was doing a reading at this book shop on Kensington High Street and that I should go. My first thought was, well that’s definitely not happening, but then I guess what happened was that I spoke about this with some friends and we decided it would be a fantastic opportunity to drop a meme and generate some ridiculousness and hilarity in the form of ‘a story to tell’. So I went.
My friend N bought us tickets and I paid him back in Xanax and we got there at a relatively decent time when there was already a queue, but not a long one. The reading was sold out apparently, but when we got in and took our seats it turned out that the chair next to mine was and remained empty, which is a shame because A Girl also wanted to come, but she couldn’t. I’m not going to complain much though, because it’s nice to have an empty seat next to you, as you well know.
Bret came on and he read a bit of Imperial Bedrooms and them some broad from a ridiculous chick magazine who thought she was Mariella Frostrup ‘interviewed’ him and I suppose he did a good job of not throwing a hardback on her head, but perhaps I would also be more patient if I were getting paid.
Then they opened to questions from the audience and the main people I remember participating were:
Some old Italian woman (45? 50?) with numerous incredibly long-winded, going-nowhere questions in broken English and the heaviest accent I’ve heard in my life, who made me turn religious momentarily and thank Jesus for not sounding like that (although I still have an accent).
Some lit geeks on the front row who were asking literary questions and practically providing answers as well whilst Bret was talking, mainly namedropping books and writers, etc, trying to convince everyone in the room that they’re exceptionally well-read and cultured and perhaps they were, but there were also incredibly unattractive and at the end of the day we all know that being good-looking is the only thing that really counts.
A young couple who were attacking Bret with such original questions as ‘how can you say Less Than Zero is a moralist book when it’s bleak and filled with violence’, etc, which made me think that if I do become a successful writer (ha), I’ll still go to readings twenty-five years down the line and answer questions about the red bars on my pictures on the blog, and how much of what I write is true, because there are always morons in the general public who can’t think of anything new for themselves.
Anyway, when that insufferable section was over we had two choices: either leave or queue up and have our books signed by Bret. Naturally, after a mild panic attack, I decided to stay.
And these are some of the highlights of what was said between Bret and me over the next, say, 10-15 minutes.
Me (as an opening line): So yeah, I’m the guy with the tattoo of your name *points at arm*
Bret: Oh, you’re London Preppy
Then we talked about the interview he gave to the magazine mentioning me and my blog, then I tried to reassure him that I wasn’t a crazy stalker, then he made a good impression of believing me, then I generally stuttered a lot, then he mentioned seeing me on twitter and contemplating whether he should follow me (“should Bret Easton Ellis follow London Preppy”, he asked himself, apparently), then I told him that he should, then he said he hasn’t read much of the blog, then I told him that he’s not missing out on anything, then there was more small talk, a ridiculous picture of us together and then he signed my book ‘to London Preppy’ instead of my real name (my choice, as I thought this would generate a more buzzworthy jpeg for blogging / tweeting purposes). Before I left he said that he’ll follow me on twitter, asked if people can private-message each other there and then suggested that we keep in touch. None of which things have happened since, of course, but hey the guy has been in the public eye for three decades and knows how to speak to fans and what to say. He’s not crazy.
Anyway, I guess that’s everything. Since I finished my book a few weeks ago, I’ve been contacting him on twitter because I’d like him to have a read and in an ideal world give me a sleeve note, but he hasn’t acknowledged this.
Perhaps this is a little desperate, but I think I have one opportunity in life this year to make this book a success and be a full-time writer and I'm going to try not to waste it. Bret has had a ridiculously successful writing career over the last twenty-five years and people who have been following his interviews /twitter / writing lately (pre-Imperial Bedrooms to now) can clearly see that his focus is currently Hollywood / the movies and he’s extremely keen to 'break through' there in some capacity or another (possibly because that’s where the big $$$ is or possibly because that’s his preferred medium now), but I’m about thirty years behind in career life-stage and a moderately successful first novel with a sleeve note from my favourite living writer would do me fine.