NOTE: To illustrate the post, I'm using images from the film adaptations of Bret Easton Ellis' novels. These often stray far from the source material and are used here only as a visual reference.
Bret Easton Ellis' first novel Less Than Zero introduced us to Clay, Blair, and Julian.
Clay, the protagonist, is home on break from Camden College, where he sees his girlfriend Blair and their friend Julian, who has become a heroin addict and male prostitute.
Other characters include Rip, Clay's drug dealer; Alana, Blair's friend; and Trent, Clay's model friend.
All are referenced in later novels.
Then came The Rules of Attraction in 1987. The narrators included Sean Bateman, Paul Denton, and Lauren Hynde.
Bisexual Paul is in love with Sean, who is infatuated with Lauren, a girl Paul used to date. It's complicated.
We also meet Victor Johnson and Mitchell Allen.
Victor is Lauren's unfaithful boyfriend, and Mitchell is a guy Paul had a relationship with in the past.
There are two other narrators worth noting: Clay, the protagonist of Less Than Zero, and Sean's brother Patrick Bateman, the protagonist of Ellis' next novel.
Clay is referred to as "the guy from L.A." We'll get to Patrick shortly.
Here's something fun: Clay has a note on his door saying "Rest in Peace Called."
Next is American Psycho, in which Patrick Bateman is revealed to be a serial killer.
Patrick meets up with his brother Sean and also runs into Paul Denton and Victor Johnson. All three are characters from The Rules of Attraction.
And they all attended Camden, where Vanden, a minor character in American Psycho, goes. Vanden was mentioned but not seen in Less Than Zero and The Rules of Attraction.
Two other characters to remember are Timothy Price, one of Patrick's colleagues, and Detective Donald Kimball, who is investigating Patrick's murders.
They'll pop up again in future novels.
Now things get even more complicated. One of Patrick's victims is a woman named Allison Poole, who is a character from Jay McInerney's novel Story of My Life.
Jay McInerney and Bret Easton Ellis were both considered part of the literary "Brat Pack" of the '80s. McInerney dated Rielle Hunter — yes, the woman who had an illegitimate child with John Edwards — and he based the character of Allison Poole on her in Story of My Life. And then Ellis killed her off in American Psycho.
In 1994, Ellis published The Informers, a collection of interconnected stories. Characters include a young Timothy (Tim) Price and his friend Graham.
The Informers takes place when Tim was in college. He attended UCLA but dropped out and went to Stanford, as explained in American Psycho.
Graham buys concert tickets from Julian. Graham's sister is part of that crowd, and her friends Blair and Alana are mentioned. You'll remember them from Less Than Zero.
Graham's sister reveals that Julian is a male prostitute. But we knew that already.
And one chapter of The Informers is comprised of letters to Sean Bateman from The Rules of Attraction.
After The Informers came Glamorama, which follows Victor Ward (formerly Johnson) and Lauren Hynde, both from The Rules of Attraction.
Victor is now an A-list model and Lauren is a successful actress. They're both involved in a terrorist organization.
Glamorama includes flashbacks to Camden College, where we see Sean Bateman and Mitchell Allen from The Rules of Attraction.
Remember them? Not pictured: Bertrand, another Camden alum who is now involved in the same terrorist organization as Victor and Lauren.
And we once again see Allison Poole, Jay McInerney's character whom Ellis killed off in American Psycho.
Does this mean Patrick Bateman never murdered anyone? (Yes.)
Ellis published Lunar Park in 2005. The main character is — wait for it — Bret Easton Ellis.
Someone is committing murders in the style of Patrick Bateman from American Psycho. Detective Donald Kimball investigates.
In the novel, Bret has a hard time distinguishing reality from fiction. At first, he doesn't even realize that Detective Donald Kimball, who is investigating him in "real life," is a character he created in American Psycho.
Bret also hangs out with Jay McInerney, lives next door to Mitchell Allen, and once dated Blair.
McInerney is, of course, a real-life writer, who created the character of Allison Poole that reappears in Ellis' books. Mitchell and Blair are from The Rules of Attraction and Less Than Zero, respectively. In the narration, Bret even mentions that Mitchell dated Paul Denton.
Ellis' most recent novel, Imperial Bedrooms, is a sequel to Less Than Zero. Once again, the protagonist is Clay.
Blair reappears, now married to Trent.
Obviously, both are characters from Less Than Zero.
Also present: Less Than Zero's Julian and Rip.
Julian is now a high-class pimp, and Rip is the head of his own drug cartel. This story does not have a happy ending.
Did you get all that?
Just go back and reread all of Ellis' novels and this post. Shouldn't be too hard to keep track of everything.