The last book to be officially banned in America was William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch, but in 1991, Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho galvanized a good part of the country, getting the author dropped by his publisher, protested by women's-rights groups, and placed on numerous "hit lists" by fundamentalist nuts. Though time has been kind to that book—many have finally come around to its admittedly extreme satire of yuppie consumerism—Ellis' career was forever changed. Besides a collection of refurbished short stories, Glamorama marks his first new book since Psycho, and it's easily his most ambitious to date. Of course, in the world of Bret Easton Ellis, "ambitious" means incorporating something approximating a plot for the first time, though readers may have some trouble discerning exactly what that plot is. Glamorama's vacant protagonist Victor Ward, a promiscuous bimbo of a male model, somehow finds himself caught up in a mystery that leads him to Europe, where he encounters a group of models-turned-terrorists. Or is Victor, an aspiring actor hoping to get a part in Flatliners II, merely the star of some bizarre action movie? Like most good paranoid fiction, Glamorama never quite makes clear what's real and what isn't, though ultimately the plot has very little bearing on the novel's successes. Models make easy targets, and celebrities do more to make fun of themselves than any satirist could, but by casting these trendy assholes into such an extreme (and extremely confusing) conspiracy, Ellis takes the puppet-like reputation of fashion models to its logical end. Posing for photos or shooting down planes, models are merely empty vessels empowered by pop culture, marionettes operated by malicious behind-the-scenes trend-mongers. If the malaise of the white and wealthy as portrayed in Glamorama doesn't deviate too much from that found in Ellis' other books, and if all the proper names he drops still seem like filler, the effectiveness of his writing is nonetheless inescapable. Genius or charlatan, Ellis is one of the few writers who can infuse our disposable culture with a sad, and sometimes menacing, meaning.