Oh what a joy it is to talk about my favorite book, American Psycho! And I’m not kidding – the first time I read the book I actually had to put it down and revisit it because some parts of it were that disgusting. But I told myself I had to finish it because, as my first Easton Ellis novel, I was pretty impressed that an author could conjure up such filth that I would actually have to put the book down mid page. I mean, I read Naked Lunch before this one.
Most people have read Less Than Zero or Rules of Attraction, but many haven’t read Ellis’ most acclaimed novel for this very reason. It’s his only book that doesn’t follow the apathetic, drug-loving young adults of Los Angeles that you can safely assume reflect Ellis’ own posse. That is one of the qualities I love about him as an author, his writing is very real because it is almost non-fictional in its fiction. Which is what makes American Psycho so, so disturbing. How can someone make up a Patrick Bateman?
Surely Bateman is modeled after Ted Bundy: handsome, successful, sex-crazed serial killer. He’s surrounded by his Wall Street colleagues and all the greed associated with it. These were the “yuppies” of the 80’s. A running joke is that none of the characters ever remember another character’s name, instead, they seem to compete through who has the nicest office, the best table at the trendiest restaurant, the most expensive designer-brand socks. Bateman comically gets infuriated if he cannot recognize the designer of a pair of socks another broker is wearing, as he prides himself on spotting an Alexander McQueen from 50 feet away.
I’m not going to explain every maddening thing Bateman does in the book. There’s chopping off of limbs, sexual deviance turned axe-murder… really, only the author himself could keep that list going. And it’s no secret that Ellis isn’t exactly respectable toward women; all his female characters from Blair in Less Than Zero to Evelyn in American Psycho, if they aren’t there to die some horrible death, they’re really just there as aesthetic normalcy for the sex-depraved main character.
I’d encourage anyone to at least attempt to read this book. Ellis himself mocked the film adaption (mostly because it was directed by a woman), and I happened to really enjoy the film despite its graphicness. The book, however, is a whole different entity. But what the author does best is explain apathy through amazing narration, and Bateman is the ultimate apathetic narrator. You get to see New York City through the eyes of a successful young businessman, and it is truly a bleak, unapologetic world. Also, as I re-read it this year, I picked up on all the Donald Trump remarks and saw how much Bateman admires him. Coincidence? I think not.