American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
Read: 18 July to 11 August 2011
3 / 5 stars
Is Patrick Bateman a
murderous sociopath? Or just some narcissistic Wall Street yuppie whose
delusions of grandeur nearly had me puking all over the book? I have no
bloody clue because the only way I could get through this novel was
reading it as an allegory for the evil of capitalism. That's not the
point, I'm sure, but it did make things interesting, if not bearable.
only real answer I can offer is to the question of whether Brett Easton
Ellis is a writer with whom I'd voluntarily spend 15 minutes alone
(which is a resounding 'hell no'). As much as I'd like to pick his
brain, I'm afraid of what would ultimately happen to mine -- microwaved?
stapled to the floor? fed to a chow?
I will say, for its more
gruesome moments (and there are many, all of which are infinitely more
visceral than anything I've read before -- and I've read a lot of King,
which means I've mostly unflinchingly encountered a dude's manhood
unceremoniously shoved into his mouth and left to rot), the quality of
the writing was damn good. Ellis does whirlwind narratives well, and
he's a mighty fine wordsmith.
Unfortunately, Ellis also has a
knack for creating some deeply disturbed and deeply disturbing
characters. Yes, the main character is horrifying for his realism, which
is a testament to Ellis's skills as a writer. The violence could have
turned into a self-parodying bloodbath. Bateman could have dissolved
into a prattling cliche. But.... hey, I've got a vivid imagination, too,
and a selectively weak stomach to go along with it, so picturing some
of the scenes was a bit much for me at times. As much as I'm inclined to
believe that this book is an eerily accurate depiction of what goes on
in a sociopath's mind, I enjoyed being trapped in Bateman's head very
little. He is probably the least reliable narrator in modern literature
and.... okay, that part of it WAS entirely too entertaining. Every
thought spilling from Bateman's unstable mind was as plausible as
getting reservations for eight-o'-clock tonight at Dorsia, and that
knowledge had me snickering over certain passages far more than any sane
In short: It's a good book, yes, but I'll be damned if I'm ever reading it again.