American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (1991)

L: 8.5/10

M: 8 /10

 Analysis from tofu soaked in pork blood:

This… is an interesting book. This was one of the last Ellis books I read on my initial binge of the author’s work. His other books all have glimpses of the extreme graphic imagery that takes up many pages of American Psycho, but this one is in a class of its own for sure.

American Psycho immediately opens with the Ellis-rambling style of heavy, dense descriptions of everything and everyone in the room. It works very well here, as the main character, Patrick Bateman, is shown to be drowning in the details, so much so that the darkest part of his mind may or may not be unleashed to the highest degree, leaving such a body count in its wake that large murderous rampages are simply left out of the book, an afterthought by Patrick.

The reveal of the darkest parts of this book is ramped up slowly in the beginning. A wall street lifestyle is painted with the ugliest of people, saying the nastiest things and wearing the most expensive suits. Nobody seems to know who anybody really is, confusing one other for somebody else. There are hardly any likable people in these pages, Patrick Bateman, perhaps being the most disdainful of the bunch. This all gets washed away in blood as the story progresses.

Chapters trade-off between expensive dinners, (very very) graphic sex scenes, and violent dismemberment of women. It’s so explicit that even on my second read through it made me uncomfortable at times. I can’t help but feel like that’s the goal of this book, and if so, mission accomplished tenfold.

The ending suggests that this could all just possibly be the darkest part of Mr. Batman’s mind, stopping there simply as thoughts that couldn’t possibly be acted out to this degree. His life could potentially be so dull that he escapes to these places. There are no real answers, this is not an exit.

Analysis from a needle in a haystack, but one that is hiding from this book:

Holy hell, guys!! Nothing could have possibly prepared me for this book. I love Bret Easton Ellis. I am no connoisseur of his work, but what I have read I have loved. His style of writing is so distinctive. You are pulled and happy to go along for whatever ride he may take you on. This work was no different in that I was a willing participant. However, he did manage to make me feel guilty and disgusting about it.

Having married and divorced a narcissist, I will admit that many parts of the book were grating to me. The constant observation of materialism, the constant comparisons of others to the main character, and the relentless arrogance were a lot to consume. This though, is one of the author’s greatest talents in that even when triggered by his words, I am so addicted to the intensity of the emotions he provokes that I have to keep reading.

You can’t possibly review this book without touching on the graphic sexual and homicidal content. My main view when reading something like this is to first be concerned for the mind that concocted it in the first place. Surely Mr. Ellis has some dark corners of his mind, but this is grotesque and concerning. Only a depraved and truly sick person could think of such things and put them to paper. After I judged him harshly, I realized that I was feverishly soaking up every disgusting line and feigning for more so I might as well admit to being troubled too. Oh well, at least I’m in good company.

I believe I read the book quite literally. Perhaps the shock of it all took me out of the mental game when it comes to dissecting reason and motive. I simply took the book as a story of a narcissistic, homophobic, murdering, sociopathic pariah of society who gets away with atrocities because, well, the eighties! Everyone is so coked out or high on pharmaceuticals and stuck up their own asses and the newest restaurants or hip purchases that they can’t even muster up the decency to remember someone’s face to their name. So, of course, horrific things go unnoticed or simply overlooked because to truly see the evil of a person would mean a level of intimacy that no one cared to take the time for.

In the end, the book has been a delicious and disgusting ride. I imagine I’ll hop on for another round in a few years.

bret new yorker

Bret Easton Ellis

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