What can I say? I love this book, even if saying it out loud makes me incredibly unpopular. Sure, Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho is graphically violent. Sure, many (fictional) women die. Sure, he rambles on and on about Whitney Houston, Phil Collins and designer fashion amongst other things (you can skip those bits, don’t say I said so). But, I’ll be damned, if this book didn’t make me smile in recognition at some points. And no, you should not be concerned for my mental welfare, these are things we can all smile at; Patrick Bateman lives in all of us.
Even if you’re not a 80s yuppy stockbroker slash serial killer, you can identify with his crazed need to fit in (although hopefully to a slightly lesser extent). You can sympathise with his frustration at the shallowness and materialism of his society (even if he revels in it). There’s humour in these pages, if you dare to look: his rage at being outdone in a business card-off, his excuse of needing to return some video tapes whenever he needs to get out of a pickle, the nemesis relationship he develops with a restaurant he can never get into (without trickery).
Yes, there are terrible things about this book. Did I mention the annoying in depth commentary on Whitney Houston, Phil Collins and men’s tailored suits? The animal cruelty is also pretty upsetting. Am I a bad person because hurt animals affect me more than hurt people? Maybe so but it’s the truth. There’s misogyny, homophobia, deranged torture and murder scenes, cannibalism and straight up insanity so, if you’re a touch squeamish and/or easily offended and/or grossed out, best not unwrap that adults-only shrink wrap. Head straight back to the store to see if you can get a refund or, the more likely scenario, send it back to whatever online shop you bought it from. But I don’t think anyone who buys American Psycho does so thinking it’s going to be a Jane Austen novel. If you did, I have one word for you: Google. Oh, and the fricking title: American Psycho. Didn’t that tip you off?
And, sure, maybe it ends and you’re left wondering what the fuck just happened (in which case, don’t watch the movie) but isn’t that half the fun? You’ve essentially been ‘gifted’ a fucked up, grotesque murder spree of a novel and you get to decide how it ends. Did he? Didn’t he? No one knows. It’s up to you. Go forth and make decisions, dear reader. The choice is yours.
I wrote this book review for a uni assignment a year or two ago. Haven’t changed a thing and, yes, I still love this book (and the movie). For your reading pleasure.
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