Wednesday, July 3, 2013

American Psycho

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.

The 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 person should.

In short: It's a good book, yes, but I'll be damned if I'm ever reading it again.

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