Ian's Reviews > American Psycho

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
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Nov 05, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: us-classic, horror, a-kindle, america-51, funny, modern-novel
Read from March 19 to 25, 2012

I enjoyed reading this challenging novel, but only to a certain extent. At times the biting, coarse satire reminded me of Rabelais or Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, but I think it went off the rails about halfway when the author just began repeating ad nauseam the scenes of brutal, loveless sex and the twisted, murderous violence to no narrative, metaphorical or satirical end. He also continued to overegg the satirical themes of the first half of the novel, but with no renewed imagination and thus no effect. Frankly I got bored well before the end.

It’s hard to sum up a novel that deliberately has no normal plot, no beginning, middle and end and also lacks any characterisation. So I won’t bother other than to say that all the characters are a reflection of each other. Any of them could have been Bateman and he could have been any of them. This is beautifully demonstrated by the author with the constant mistaken name checking that goes on throughout the novel.

Having been a Yuppie in London at around the same time as this novel is set in New York, a lot of the hateful attitudes that Bateman and his friends espouse did strike home to me. I recognised the homophobia that was prevalent when AID’s first became a big issue; the mysogyny and pack attitudes; the contempt for the poor and the glorification of money (I loved the sheer joy and superiority that Bateman felt every time he was able to flash his Platinum card, having been equally delighted back then, when I got a gold Amex).

The novel is very funny in places particularly with regard to Bateman’s music preferences, which are as tasteless (with the notable exception of the Talking Heads) as his behaviour is revolting. His detailed explanation of why the Genesis of Phil Collins vintage were better than when Peter Gabriel was involved, just had me laughing out loud. I also enjoyed the increasingly bizarre culinary concoctions that were served up in the latest hot restaurant that had to be visited. The sartorial descriptions were also funny for a while, but just went on far too long. I’m just not a fashion/label afficionado in the slightest, so perhaps the finer points of this particular strand of satire were lost on me.

But what about the sadistic violence and the graphic sex that often preceded it........for which the novel is most famous and for which it got banned in some quarters. I’m not really sure what its purpose was, other than to justify the title and gain some notoriety. It goes on and on and gets more base and visceral as the novel progresses but eventually just becomes tedious and excessive. It didn’t really shock or frighten me although some of it was truly gross and I eventually came to the conclusion that it wasn’t real but imagined, primarily because he never seems in danger of being caught despite the blood and bodily fluids that often spatter his clothing, despite the people going missing, despite the screams of his victims and even despite his constant talk to his friends of his murderous intentions and tortured fantasies.

In fact, it doesn’t really matter whether it is real or imagined. To me the violence and Bateman’s seemingly charmed existence with regard to possible police intervention is just a clear metaphor for the isolation of the individual within modern technological society which rings even truer today than when the novel was penned.

So at times a 4 star read, but too often just 2 star and towards the end 1 star. I therefore gave it 3 stars because of the good bits and because it did make me think which is no bad thing at all.
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Reading Progress

03/20/2012 page 40
03/25/2012 page 360
90.0% "Just can't get it finished.......bit bored tbh"
08/21/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-7)

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message 7: by Em (new) - rated it 4 stars

Em Are you sleeping well at the moment Ian? I only read it in daylight hours, too grim for bedtime.

message 6: by Ian (last edited Mar 22, 2012 08:47AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ian Reading it mostly in bed.....I'm fine so far bar his music choices. Think I might obsess about designer labels and chop people up or imagine chopping them up (not sure yet, so don't tell me), if I had to listen to Christopher Cross and Phil Collins as my staple musical fare.

message 5: by Em (new) - rated it 4 stars

Em That song by song break down of No Jacket Required (is it?) amused the hell out of me.

message 4: by Ian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ian Not got to that yet....more nightmares tonight.

message 3: by Ian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ian Thanks for the like Em

message 2: by Em (new) - rated it 4 stars

Em Very thoughtful review!

message 1: by Ian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ian I do my best lol

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