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I threatened in another thread (on Patrick McGrath) to start something on American Psycho because I do think it's an amazing book. I started it first in the 1980s and couldn't actually finish it as I found it so disturbing. However, I returned to it again a few years ago (after, it has to be said, seeing the excellent film version with Christian Bale) and I do think it has so much to say about the hollowness of modern society. The satire on the consumer world and its obsession with designer clothers and exotic food is very clever and the fact that the narrative comes from Patrick Bateman's viewpoint does create a sense of collusion. The book itself, though, is very unpleasant. I do wonder whether Ellis needed to make the violence so graphically nauseating to make his point. The film manages to avoid some of the more disturbing scenes eg the murder of the child in the Central Park zoo, yet still keeps the sense of black comedy and satire. Yet, to gain a sense of Bateman's cold sadism, perhaps the violence does need to be this graphic? Does anyone have a view on this?

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Have to agree that its a great and savage book. I got through it first time, which is not something I could say of its close cousin and predecessor "Money" by Martin Amis. I found John Self even more unpleasant and shallow.

 

I know a lot of people find the style irritating with the way Bateman describes people by what they're wearing and his long discourses on the more embarrassing corners of '80s pop (Huey Lewis and the News?), but I think its part of the book's genius.

 

I think the violence has to be extreme to illustrate how empty and cold Bateman is. I'm not sure its so much what he does that is disturbing, it is more the fact he describes his activities in the same emotionless style, as if it meant no more to him than going out for dinner.

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Yes, I do. By choosing a first person narrative, I think the reader is much more directly involved in events and is invited to consider their own vanity, consumerism, shallowness etc. And the fact that the novel gives no overt moral closure - Bateman is left to continue his murderous activities - leaves a disturbing message about the way this materialistic and amoral society effectively protects people like him. Behind this, of course, I think Ellis is making a profoundly moral point, but the way he chooses to make it is disturbing and chillingly effective.

 

Has anyone read 'Lunar Park' yet? Should be an interesting development of Ellis's ideas, I think.

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A truly tremendous book! It's the only one of his I've read, although I do have several others on mount tbr. Tried 'Glamorama' but kept getting sidetracked and wish I'd read something else before 'American Psycho' as I think I'll be disappointed if they don't match up to this one!

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Less Than Zero is pretty good, but yes, ultimately nothing matches up to American Psycho.

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American Psycho is getting quite close to the sumit of my TBR pile, haven't read it before but I loved Lunar Park when I read it last year.

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I loved American Psycho when I read it (if thats the right word for it!), although I did read most of it on the bus on the way to work, and felt quite ashamed in case someone was reading over my shoulder! It is quite violent! I thought the writing was excellent, and quite unlike anything else I'd ever read. I too have Lunar Park on my TBR shelf, hopefully to be read soon...

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I absolutely love this book. It's very graphic and disturbing, but extremely well written. Bret Easton Ellis really seems to get into the head of the character, and is extremely believeable. This is the only book of his I have ever read, but I think I might try another.

 

This is also the only book that I found too disturbing to read in bed, or late at night!

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I have to admit I'm not sure if I liked this book. The violence was just so extreme and so graphic that it was horrific. (I'm think of the rats)...

 

If this book was a computer game the Daily Mail would have torn it to shreds, as its a book it seems to get off far more lightly. (Though maybe I wasn't around/remember it when the book was released).

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If this book was a computer game the Daily Mail would have torn it to shreds, as its a book it seems to get off far more lightly. (Though maybe I wasn't around/remember it when the book was released).

 

Anything the Daily Mail tears to shreds, is alright by me...jumped-up censorious bunch of idiots.

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Anything the Daily Mail tears to shreds, is alright by me...jumped-up censorious bunch of idiots.

:lmao::lmao::lmao::lmao: Love it!

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This book had a similar effect on me to - The Wasp Factory - but I enjoyed it a bit more. Like The Wasp Factory I found myself fascinated by the the character and his strange behaviour, compelled to continue regardless of their extreme actions. The reason I enjoyed this a bit more was the clever satire, and dark comedy. I literally laughed out loud at the chapter devoted to a rolling 3-way phone call in an attempt to make dinner reservations.

 

I was surprised at how subtle the beginning of the book was. Knowing the story from watching parts of the film and generally being aware of the book I was surprised how Easton-Ellis eased the reader into Bateman's world. I was expecting blood and gore from the start but instead you just get flashes of his real thinking through throw-away comments, easily written off as bawdy jokes. Then the author kicks into gear and really lets rip.

As for the question of whether the extreme violence is necessary, I like to think that Easton-Ellis has tried to do something clever. To start with I was shocked, then the atrocities got worse and worse. By the time that Bateman was slaughtering a child, and using rats as tools for torture, I was frightened by how easily I accepted it. I had become desensitised to it.

 

If you break the book down into the violent parts and everything else you realise that most of the book is actually describing how mundane Bateman's life really is, and how socially awkward he is outside of his yuppie clique. He has everything that anyone could want but he feels empty, even his acts of violence begin to bore him.

The fact that Bateman could name every piece of clothing a person was wearing but not recognise the human wearing them, for me, summed up everything that is wrong with him and the whole social grouping that his character represents.

 

American Psycho is by no means an easy read, it is a bit dull in places, but the perseverance is worth it. It's clever and surprisingly funny if your sense of humour is dark enough. I do have one question that hasn't been covered in this thread yet...

 

Do you think that Bateman actually carried out all of the murders etc., or were they all just the elaborate, sick daydreams of a bored yuppie?

 

Right, I've blathered on long enough... plus I've got some videotapes to return... ;)

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That's a fab review Krey20. I agree that the book and Bateman's narrative showed how dull and shallow his life was. The fact that all the characters kept getting mistaken for one another showed how they have no individuality, and that they are all defined only by the labels they wear.

 

I loved the way that we would get glimpses of the madness in Bateman's mind during some of his narratives (even when he was talking about something like music), but he would clearly not notice that he had said anything amiss.

 

With regard to your spoiler...

 

There is a big internet debate about whether or not the murders were real, and I think Bret Easton Ellis has said that he deliberately left it ambiguous. Personally I believe that they are real, and it is just another indication of the shallowness of their lives, that people don't believe that a man like Bateman - good looking, outwardly charming, good job etc., - could even be capable of such atrocities. Regarding the end, when he confesses to killing Paul Owen/Allen (the book gives one name, the film gives the other) and his lawyer doesn't believe him, because he says he saw Paul only the week before in London - I believe that is another example of how all the characters kept getting mixed up - the lawyer probably thinks he saw Paul, but he keeps forgetting who's who anyway. Also the fact that he did seem to have a conscience when it came to his secretary (who was the only one who seemed to understand him even just a little bit) seems to indicate that the other murders were real. But regardless of whether or not he committed the murders, he obviously believed that he had committed them. My other half is convinced that the murders were all in his head

 

 

Incidentally - people said that the film was too tame, but for obvious reasons, much of what was in the book simply would not have been allowed to go in the film. I thought Christian Bale played the part superbly, and epitomised the image of the character. I cannot believe that Leonardo DiCaprio was suggested for the part at one time!

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I read about half of American Psycho about 5 years ago, but I got bored by the tangents of mundanenous that would take up a whole chapter. I think I put it down and opted to watch the film instead when I saw a chapter moaning about Genesis :eek: . I think the book is in one of my unpacked boxes of books from my last move, perhaps one day a will tackle it again. This thread has inspired me to at least try.

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I think the murders were imagined. I think Bateman's public life was so didactically controlled that he was an extreme fantasist in private.

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I've been thinking about this quite a lot since finishing the book, but I think the murders were imagined too. The biggest piece of proof I can offer is when Bateman revisits Paul Owen's apartment to find it up for sale and refurbised. The pesence of a suspicious estate agent wasn't enough to convince me that it was the same place where he mutilated two women.

 

I thought the scenes with and his secretary tells us most about his character. It's the closest he gets to being tender and honest. Even though she isn't part of his yuppie world he almost reaches out to her before realising that he would corrupt and ruin her. He seems to constantly be looking for someone that will entertain him, or at least keep his mind occupied so that he stop thinking murderous thoughts.

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I started reading this when I was about 17 and totally missed the point of it - a satirical look at the extravagance of the eighties etc, probably because it was the eighties. Having watched ths film last week when it was on TV I think I really must read it again. I felt very disturbed whilst watching the film when I found myself laughing at the violence....

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I started reading this when I was about 17 and totally missed the point of it - a satirical look at the extravagance of the eighties etc, probably because it was the eighties. Having watched ths film last week when it was on TV I think I really must read it again. I felt very disturbed whilst watching the film when I found myself laughing at the violence....

Was it the bit where he was body popping to Huey Lewis, just before he picks up the axe. I laughed at that too.

Quick note though, I found the book a lot more disturbing.

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I saw a bit of the film last week, but I turned it off just in case it got too scary (was in on my own). The book stayed with me for weeks after I finished it...

 

 

at the time of reading I did wonder if the murders were real or imagined, but ultimately got so caught up in the descriptions that I treated them as if they were. However after finishing I decided that they probably were imagined, various clues in the text seem to point to this, although it is by no means clear.

 

 

THe most disturbing thing for me was the way my mind took up the atrocities from the text and reinterpreted and re-hashed them into my own horrible, sick imaginings! I have to point out I wasn't imagining doing anything horrible to anyone else, or having it done to me, but just thinking up different scenarios like plots for a novel or something. I was quite shocked that my mind could come up with such horrid things! And I think this is another reason American Psycho is such a good novel - it taps into a persons deepest darkest corners. Parts of us we don't necessarily want to acknowledge. It also made me wonder,

if these were imagined crimes, do you think at some point Bateman's mind would 'snap' and he would start carryign them out for real...is that how real serial killers start out?

 

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I read this years ago, and I must say that Glamorama is a lot worse in terms of graphic violence. In my opinion, anyway.

 

I really enjoyed American Psycho, partly because it was (is?) banned in Singapore, where I'm from. I bought a copy when I was in Australia, and practically devoured it, it was nothing like anything I had ever read before. The blank coldness of Patrick Bateman just really got to me.

 

And how it could've all been in his head because the 80s rat race was so mind-numbing.

 

Two thumbs up, if you're into violent fiction.

 

(Hi, I'm new.)

 

EDITED TO ADD: have introduced myself in the relevant thread.

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I wanted to like American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. It seemed right up my alley;Savage black humor, indictment of shallow materialism, satire of the excesses of the 80s. I really expected to love this book. But I didn't. It was often boring, self indulgent, exploitive and gratuitous. Maybe if I'd read this when it first came out it would've seemed fresh. But rich, sociopathic Wall Street arseholes snorting coke and behaving badly is old news. And even in 1991, when this came out, it was 4 years removed from the movie Wall Street, and the book Bonfire of the Vanities. And, if you want an exploration of the psychology of cruelty, Jerzy Kosinski did it far better, and vastly more succinctly and eloquently.

Probably the least interesting aspect of this book for me was the obsession with fashion designers and clothing manufacturers. I have no knowledge whatsoever as to who is supposedly better or hipper in that industry, and even less interest. Almost all of those references went over my head, and there were pages and pages and pages and pages of this stuff. And while there were some amusing bits in the fashion coordination debates, I probably missed a lot of them because fairly early in the book I just started skipping whole pages of mind numbingly boring descriptions of people's attire, laid out in excruciating detail.

As for the violence in the book, it didn't offend me per se, but it did seem like Ellis was enjoying himself in the writing of it, and that was disturbing. And, for me at least, for black humor to work there has to be some sense that there is poetic justice at work, or that the person to whom the misfortune has befallen deserved it in some way. Or at the very least some broader comment on absurdity or the ridiculous nature of the human condition. But that was seldom the case in this book. For the most part it just seemed cruel, exploitive and gratuitous.

I'm not saying there was nothing worthwhile in this book. The juxtaposition of his riffs on Genesis and Whitney Houston, with the horrors he perpetuated, was definitely amusing, though by the time he gets to Huey Lewis its wearing thin. The descriptions of Bateman's mental states, his own horrors and nameless dreads, were intriguing. Bateman's obsession with The Donald is particularly chilling and symbolic in this year where 50 million people will judge that American Psycho worthy of the presidency. The self absorption of these yuppies who can't remember who is who but can quote minutiae from fashion mags made me smile, as did Bateman telling them, time and again, what a homicidal maniac he was, which never seemed to register at all on their self involved radar. And the never ending, involved discussions about where to eat, where no one can seem to make a decision and stick with it, we're very funny.

But none of this made up for the fact that the vast majority of his victims were, at least relatively, innocent. And yes, I know, their very innocence was offensive to his evil, and undoubtedly his murdering of so many women had roots in his own mommy issues. But it wasn't entertaining, just sick and sad. In fact Bateman himself wasn't entertaining; just a rather pathetic and cowardly bully, who chose his victims for the ease of killing them, rather than because they actually merited his rage.

At first I did wonder if the murders were real, but concluded they actually happened after the incident with the cab driver. And I really think he'd have killed Evelyn if it was only imaginary, as well as Carruthers and the detective; The murders would have been more vengeful if imaginary, since he wouldn't have to worry about getting away with them. Besides which, this would become a totally pointless novel if they were just imagined, and merely a sick and self indulgent ploy to allow Ellis to publish these horribly graphic images.

At 180 pages this could've been a good book, a somewhat insightful look into the mind of a serial killer, and a satire on the excesses of the trendy and spoiled rich. At 400 pages it was just self indulgent and mediocre. I'm pretty sure I 'got' what Ellis was trying to say. I just don't think he said it very well. 3stars

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