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Brat Pack (literary)

The expression "literary Brat Pack" refers to a group of young American authors, including Bret Easton Ellis, Tama Janowitz, Jay McInerney and Jill Eisenstadt, who emerged on the country's east coast in the 1980s.[1][2] It is a twist on the label rat pack that had previously been applied to a group of young American actors earlier that decade.

A 1987 article in the New York newspaper Village Voice, presented the authors as the new faces of literature. Intended pejoratively, the nickname was illustrated by an image that collaged the authors faces onto the bodies of infants.[3] Yet their impact on literature and their vast popularity rendered this nickname an affectionate branding of the new wave of young minimalist authors. Each presented a particular challenge to established literary criticism: McInerney's debut novel, Bright Lights, Big City, was told entirely in second-person singular. Janowitz's Slaves of New York explored themes of sexual politics against a backdrop of New York's peculiarities rendered honestly, and Ellis's Less Than Zero chronicled a post-adolescent disconnect with society that seemed shocking and pathological.

The works of the Brat Pack authors owed a debt to the minimalist works of Raymond Carver and Ann Beattie, who used clear and sometimes dispassionate ways of rendering modern life that were a clear break from the linguistically heavy and very polite fiction of the previous generation. Unafraid to tackle suburban anxiety and urban angst, the authors broke new ground in subject matter and in style.

In the September/October 2005 issue of Pages magazine, the literary Brat Pack is identified as Bret Easton Ellis, Tama Janowitz, Jay McInerney, and Mark Lindquist. McInerney and Janowitz were based in New York City. Others affiliated with this group include Susan Minot, Donna Tartt, Peter Farrelly and David Leavitt. Lindquist lived in Venice, California, and Ellis moved from Sherman Oaks (in Los Angeles) to Manhattan after the success of Less Than Zero.

In an article titled "Where are They Now?", Pages magazine reported that the original four Brat pack authors socialized, but did not have that much in common other than that they were young and well hyped, and that their books were aggressively marketed to a youth audience.


  1. ^ Wyatt, Edward (August 7, 2005). "Bret Easton Ellis: The Man in the Mirror". New York Times.
  2. ^ Howard, Gerald (September 7, 2012). "I know why Bret Easton Ellis hates David Foster Wallace". Salon.
  3. ^ Wasik, B. (2009). And Then There's This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture. Penguin Publishing Group. ISBN 9781101057704. Retrieved 2015-07-12.

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