Joseph Cervelin: The Last Book I Loved, The Informers


Brett Easton Ellis offers social observations, morbid humor, and compounding degrees of separation and decadence. If his story cycle The Informers were a Choose Your Own Adventure book, here are some outcomes:

– You take your disenfranchised son to Hawaii, lust his girl, and cock-block him at dinner (your treat). Your son goes off to self-medicate. You slither up to your crush and fail at sugar-daddery.

– You go rafting while your expensive Egyptian lizards get fed poisoned cockroaches. You cheat and get cheated on.

– You crash your car. You die. Your friend removes the joint from your pocket before the cops come and smokes it.

– You join a seven-degrees, Hellenistic chain of bisexual adultery. Then you watch music videos.

– You are a vampire in LA (whether genuine or a knockoff Nosferatu). You suffer the inconvenience of a friend dropping by and interrupting a bloodletting. He’s always imposing, that party animal.

– You wake in Japan and call room service to remove the children.  You pray these young prostitutes have vanished before you step out of the shower. You peak out of the bathroom, first anxious, then relieved.

– You are dazed on pills by the pool. You talk to your Alzheimer-ailed mom on the phone, while she tells you about the photographs from a New York Christmas when you were twelve.  She has been finding those photos every day for the past two weeks.  You barely remember the trip, except the sounds of broken glass and yelling.  You smoke a cigarette and keep this to yourself: “But the thing I remember the most, the thing I remember with a clarity that makes me cringe, is that there were no photographs taken on that trip.”

– This is your life: “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. It seems that Biff, Ricky’s current lover, called Danny after getting my number from someone at the station and told him the news. I walk in and all Danny says is ‘Ricky’s dead. Throat slit. All of his blood drained from his body. Biff called.'”


Infused with guilty pleasure, this is a perfect beach read, watching these characters navigate their numb rampages and vacant glamour.

This is the literature that comes to mind during long holiday BBQ binges, in the sun, say after Bay to Breakers. It’s your buoy, staggering home under awnings all the way across San Francisco to avoid the sun, or so I’ve been told.  Not that these characters would do that – they’d go to the sleep in the gutter or flag a cab.

Interconnected, these tales extract the beauty and spirit of depravity, not because of the same ol’ sex drugs rock n roll, but because of that drive, that urgency: to confront, escape, live, die, relax, shake things up.

It’s not the staggering Burroughskowski circus… but a kindred soul, slumped in a lawn chair. These characters aren’t going to wake up on skid row, and they’re not worried about their next meal; but they do have to line up their next indulgence, these causalities of disoriented ambivalence. They must watch their backs, riding that gray area, somewhere between tanning and burning.

Joe Cervelin, a native of Brooklyn, now resides in the Bay Area. He awaits an international fellowship to carry him to sea. More from this author →