So, really, what was so special about Ellie? What could happen with Ellie except more of what had happened in bed at the Forest Park Hotel? I mean there wasn’t an eighteen year old secretary who could speak better English than she could, didn’t have more polish than she had, and didn’t come off more like a lady than she did—and couldn’t, if convinced she should, do as much as Ellie could sexually. In fact what woman couldn’t?
But when I met her at La Guardia, I felt my insides jumping as she strolled lazily down the ramp. And when I walked with her to the luggage pickup and held her hand and saw the airport workers eyeing her, I felt again that this was the most beautiful little chick in all the world.
|Dell, April 1974|
I think all of us know that couple who can’t seem to live without each other, yet whenever they get together they turn into complete psychos. If they’d never met each other they would have gone through life on a fairly even keel, but since first hooking up have gone completely off the deep end for each other. And I’m not talking in a good way either. I’m talking full tilt psycho-boogie screaming downward spiral cray-cray! Well that’s just a taste of what you have with Nick and Ellie in Herbert Kastle’s novel Ellie. These two make Sid and Nancy look like the Pleasantville homecoming king and queen.
There isn’t really a whole lot of plot to delve into here. It’s a story of boy-meets-girl, boy and girl get together and screw their silly heads off, boy decides he must have girl, girl coyly agrees to stay with boy, and mayhem ensues.
Nick Leib, is in St. Louis on a business trip when on a whim he decides to by a coat in a men’s clothing store. Working in the store is Ellie McBaren, a twenty year old girl in a short skirt. Ellie is common and simple, attractive in a girl next door kind of way, only a couple years removed from a bubblegum chewing teenager with poor grammar skills. She is uncultured, unrefined and has a careless way of revealing too much ass under her short skirt, but Nick doesn’t care. He’s decided that he’s got to have Ellie, whatever it takes.
Nick is one of those self-described studs who can pretty much land any chick he wants, with his Porche and Manhattan apartment and bigshot salary. We get the whole shebang from Nick’s point-of-view and, believe me, by the time you’re done with the novel, there is not enough soap and hot water to wash off Nick’s crummy perspective on things. You want to get your fill of the many ways you can drop the C-word to describe a girl? Just hang out with Nick Leib for a couple chapters and you’ll get more than enough. For that matter, you want to get an idea how to fuck with some poor schmuck’s head? Well, dig how Ellie really lays the headgames down with Nick, and believe me, you’ll have a Master’s degree worth. And all that’s just for the first half of the novel. We haven’t really begun to sink with Nick and Ellie into the depths of insanity disguised as obsessive lust. In fact, obsessive lust is about as tame as puppy-love in the hearts of these two head-cases. But do yourself a favor, if you ever meet a couple like Nick and Ellie. Don't walk, but run away, as fast as you can. Especially if you'd like to carry on your life without private detectives, hit men, rapists, Molotov cocktails, sleazy doctors, and lecherous punks fouling up your scenery.
So, did I like the novel, you wonder? Well…that’s a tough one. There is no denying how readable, how well written, it is. Bret Easton Ellis, for all his success and fame, doesn’t come close to pushing your face into the depravity Nick and Ellie get off on. So, yes, I did like the novel. But “like” isn’t really the right word for the experience. It’s more that I admired the novel for what it set out to do. There’s no way anyone in their right mind could relate to Nick or Ellie. Yes, I suppose one could empathize for the passion they have, but only to a point. I’ve had my share of crushes, but they never went past the embarrassment of driving past the block that the object of my unrequited affections lived on. Hopefully that goes the same for most of us. It also made me glad that my relationships have all been relatively normal. Yeah, hooking up with that crazy chick does have its undeniable allure, for a little while…but crazy has a way of rubbing off on you. It’s fun for a weekend, but don’t plan on taking it to the altar.