American Psycho -Bret Easton Ellis Technically I finished this book before I started the blog, but this is the kind of story that does not leave your mind for quite some time after finishing it. Written by Bret Easton Elis, the novel was published in 1991, and later adapted for film in 2000.
I have read my fair share of books whose authors rely mainly on shock value to give their stories more substance. While American Psycho definitely has its 'shock value' moments, there was still a great amount of depth to the overall story but most importantly to the main character. American Psycho follows the every day life of Patrick Bateman who prides himself on his seemingly perfect physique, job, and 'American' way of life. But beneath his perfect exterior, Patrick is a man that has become so emotionally detatched from the rest of the world that he has devoted a secrete 'psycho' part of his life to the torture and murder of innocent hobos and prostitutes. It is this mix of a desire for perfection but a lack of general understanding for what fuels his desires, that ultimately leads to his mental downfall.
The first half of the book details very mundane facts about Patrick's life, with a stream of repetition relating to the day-to-day events. He is constantly reiterating what has happened on the T.V. show he watches every morning and goes to great lengths to describe in specific detail the clothes, products, and drinks that he and his friends use. At points the lists that he makes can be extremely redundant to the point of annoying. Like honestly Ellis, spit it out already. But the annoyance of relentless repetition is precisely the feeling that the author is trying to push the reader into. Patrick has become so detached from his own true feelings and moral conscience that all he knows is the mundane details of others. His concept of right and wrong revolves around how to pair black socks with a brown belt and god help you if you choose the wrong color. One of the best quotes that Bateman gives to describe himself is,
"...there is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusonary, and thought I could hide my cold gaze and you cans hake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable" I simply am not there."That quote pretty much sums up Patrick Bateman to a tee. As the book progresses we are given more of an insight to the darker side of Bateman when he begins to describe the deaths and extreme torture methods that he doles out to his unsuspecting victims. The scenes become more and more graphic (and I mean graphic. No PG-13 stuff here) as Bateman begins to gradually lose control over his own thoughts and emotions, and this tailspin beings to spill into his 'American' life. While Patrick spirals further out of control he pulls you down to his level of contemptment letting you slam into rock bottom with him. Ellis ads insult to injury when towards the end of the book the now bruised and hopeless reader along with Patrick begin to question if the murders that Bateman executed actually happened. You will end it feeling disgusted, annoyed, maybe even offended....but it sure is one hell of a ride.
"Is evil something you are? Or is it something you do? My pain is constant and sharp and I do not hope for a better world for anyone In fact I want my pain to be inflicted on other. I want no one to escape. But even after admitting this -- and I have, countless times, in just about every act I've committed -- and coming face-to-face with these truths, there is no catharsis. I gain no deeper knowledge about myself, no new understanding can be extracted from my telling. There has been no reason for me to tell you any of this. This confession has meant nothing..." <---- Just wow.
Overall I was generally impressed with Bret Easton Ellis and his attention to detail in this novel. His story has haunted me long after the last page and unless you are dreaming up murders of your fellow colleges...it will leave the same impression on you. 9/10.