One of the books that helped me establish my 150 page rule was Lunar Park, by Bret Easton Ellis. And that despite an enjoyable first chapter / preface. In a oh-look-metafiction way, the opening purports to recount, in first person, Bret’s carreer up to the great splash of American Psycho . Now, I don’t know (or care to know) enough about this to play the “spot-the-fabrication” game, but it tells an entertaining story anyway. Then they move to the burbs.
Out there, the book turned into a one long string of horror clichés. My inner robot wouldn’t shut up. Sconces flickering as he walks by–how lame! A little girl’s doll is evil-been there! Evil wind blowing from the scary woods-seen it! There were bits that I think were supposed to be funny, like how all the kids in the neighborhood were on drugs, but the only element I actually found amusing was how the dog hated “Bret”. At the 150 page mark, all we had established was that “Bret” was the only one who knew the “truth”, but no one would believe him.
Since giving up on this book, I’ve seen “Adaptation,” and now I think there’s another joke I didn’t even see. The first half of the movie is a wonderful story about orchids, the people who love them, and the trials of a screenwriter trying to make a Hollywood movie out of them. Then it turns into a Hollywood movie. It’s so terrible, the only way to enjoy it is as a parody of bad Hollywood movies. It failed even as a parody for me until I got an explanation. So maybe the metafiction in Lunar Park was supposed to be a signal that the book is supposed to be a parody of a bad horror novel. It got the bad part right.