Dan Keating's Reviews > American Psycho

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
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Feb 19, 12

Read in February, 2012

You may find yourself needing a minute or two to reaffirm your sanity once you're done reading Bret Ellis' American Psycho. That may actually be the point, if there is one, which there isn't, which is the point. The whole thing is the most existential spiral I've ever encountered. As Patrick moves from periods of lucidity to boundless rage to complete dissociation, you'll find yourself at once not questioning Patrick's perception of his world whilst also questioning if any of it is real. It's a rare book that does so well that the world itself seems as crazy or crazier than the protagonist who chews peoples lips off.

That last part brings up a necessary point; American Psycho is extraordinarily violent. At one point, main character Patrick tells his girlfriend that she doesn't understand torture; in many ways, I felt like he was telling me this as well, since in reviewing some of things he did to people I was unable to come up with the words to describe those things, outside of "torture," which by itself felt paltry.

What makes American Psycho great? Aside from an excellent and unflinching prose form (Ellis' writing, while stylistically on point in his previous novels, didn't have poetic brilliance until this novel, which shines through with it on several occasions), American Psycho forces us to examine what we consider humanity in our guts and how that contrasts with how our culture has reshaped humanity. It doesn't allow us to retreat, to reassure ourselves, to duck and cover the way so many of the characters in the novel do.
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