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The controversial novel about a handsome serial killer who moves among the young and trendy in 1980s New York.
- Too explicit for my tastes, that's saying something.
I came to this book after thoroughly enjoying the movie adaptation; fantastic movie. In this case I found the book to be a little tedius and quite explicit, at times. I like to consider myself just as decensitized to violence as any North American in the 21st century, but the amount of gruesome detail Mr. Ellis goes into, is too much for my tastes.
One of the most outstanding books I have ever read. A masterpiece... I never read fiction but I had to read AP because of the reputed "fiction taking place in a non fiction" world that this book entails (take that for what its worth). The essence of the junk bond trading, ray ban wearing, Trump/Ivana drama, hip clubbing, power lunch, aerobics class 80's is summed in this book brilliantly. Pat Bateman... well... there's just so much you can say about this character but I will use one word to describe him: fascinating. The book starts off well with its endless monologues on fashion, scenery, and other people and it begins to drop hints for the reader about the impending depravity and cruelty that one will discover exists in the mind (and body ?) of Pat Bateman. The reader will pause in the earlier pages of the book and wonder, "Did he really just say what I though he said out loud?" As the reader starts to find Pat Bateman more appealing as his wit, sense of humor, and maybe even his lifestyle bring out feelings of sympathy the reader will then realize the true satire and dark humor that the auther is bringing forth... its does get dark in this one, believe me. At 400 or so pages some might think this work of fiction is to long but not me (and I don't even dig fiction). 400 pages is what's needed to "decapitate and canabilize" the characters and their world. This book should be on the required reading list of every high school senior in America. It truly defines irony and will help these young adults come to grips with what true reality is and could be. Buy this book and read it...then give it to someone you know who would horrified by it. ...more info
OMG can this guy spend anymore time writing about what everyone is wearing? This could be such a great story if the author got to telling it and left out the endless descriptions of every garment each character has on...we get it.
Save your time and money rent the movie....more info
- The images in this book will disturb me forever
This book was the most disturbing book I have ever read.
I'm pretty thick skinned but this one had me reading during the day, it was too disturbing to read before bed, just couldn't handle those images dancing around my head before going to sleep. Despite that, I read this book from start to finish.
I have heard this book described as a black comedy, if this is the case, it's blacker than any black I've ever encountered. Though I have to admit, that Patrick Bateman's (our main psycho) obsessiveness in his personal hygiene routine, business cards and favourite musical artists, was both amusing and tiresome, with pages and pages dedicated to describing these things.
In the end I was glad to give this book back to it's owner, and hope that the images it left me with will fade in time....more info
- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the 80's
I know this is a satire.
I know this is supposed to be making a point.
I know that the main character is as sad, yuppie who lives for working out, getting laid, having the best stereo system and, oh yeah, one other thing, killing people in the most sick and sadistic ways.
That being said, I really liked the character but I disliked the style.
Patrick Bateman, our lead, is a homicidal maniac who is a day trader by day and by night he is a coke sniffing, club hopping, music lover who gets off on sleeping around and killing people. To top it all off, this all happens at ground zero of the yuppie era, New York City. This alone would make the book interesting, but Ellis takes it one step further in writing the book in an almost stream of consciousness style. Not only do you know what Patrick is thinking about during conversations with his victims, but you also get a sense of who he is and what makes him tick and what makes him explode.
The character is so well written that he could be real. He is supposed to be the stereotypical yuppie, but it goes beyond that. We get a sense of Patrick with all of his weaknesses, his likes, his intelligence and his lack there of. I literally found myself laughing at some of the things he said and thought and agreeing with him at other times. That is how good the character is written.
That all said, I found the writing style difficult to follow and that is why I gave it only 3 stars. The fact that 1 1/2 pages per chapter at times would be dedicated to what everyone was wearing made for tiresome reading. I know that we are looking into the mind of someone who could stand to take some real strong medication (stronger than what was available in the 80's) but I found that it took away from some of my enjoyment.
If you are a fan of books like Fight Club you should like this book....more info
- Gross outs from a flat dimension
I would be willing to accept the defense that Ellis's quickie squib is in fact a satire of consumerism, a literary bit of photo realism if there was compelling art here. There isn't, however, and the defense falls apart. Ellis writes as if he had to submit this against a deadline, and he'd wasted his considerable lead time by living off his hefty advance. Ellis does a good job of diagnosing the narcissism of the eighties, but that by itself does nothing for either our understanding or empathy.
- Barnie Madoff as Patrik Bateman
Now when the Project for the New American Century turned out to be the Project for the Last American century we live in the world best describe by the two books, American Psycho by B. E. Ellis and Hocus Pocus by K. Vonnegut.
No, I am not aiming at easy targets, conjunction school shootings and hell of Katrina with blood and gore spread by Patrick Bateman. The connection with current events is much more subtle. His crimes are as invisible and as devoid of guilt (and persecution and punishment) as the rootless unabashed greed that dig the whole so called developed economies are sinking in now, Bernie Madoff has spiritual brother more then Charles Menson....more info
- Greatest Book Ever Written
OK, so it's not really the greatest book ever written. But its my favorite, so in my little self-centered world, it is the best book ever written. It does start out a bit slow, but stick with it, because "American Psycho" does speed up and become - well - the greatest book ever written.
Readers who enjoy Chuck Palahuniuk (sp?), Kurt Vonnegut, Hunter S Thompson, A Clockwork Orange, pointless violence and other fun stuff will LOVE this book....more info
- A Celebration of Bloodlust, Rather than a Psychological Examination
Let me start off by saying that I had an idea what I was getting into before I read this book. I just didn't know bad it would be. I've stomached violent murder scenes before (I'm an avid fan of Joyce Carol Oates) but this book left me physically sick at times. That's not talent; it's perversion. Ellis goes the easy way out. What would have been more interesting, and perhaps just as controversial is if Ellis had humanized Bateman. This is why books as formerly controversial as 'Lolita' and 'Crime & Punishment' are classics: not only did the authors humanize their despicable protagonists (a pedophile and a murderer, respectively) but they also allowed readers to actually feel sympathy for the characters. Disillusioned or not, there is little psychological reasoning for Bateman's motives. Instead the book reads like a full on celebration of bloodlust. I agree with what a previous reviewer stated about Spielberg's comment on 'Saving Private Ryan': soldiers that day had seen sights even gorier than what he chose to portray, but showing those images would have gone beyond the bounds of decency. Ellis misses the point entirely. What little psychological reasoning there is for Bateman's crimes is usually way off the mark. For example, Bateman describes one victim as "too ugly to rape". Any psychologist will tell you rape isn't about lust or attractiveness, it's about power. It's not until the very end that we get a bit of Bateman's psychological reasoning, which is AFTER the brutal torture scenes (and should have been placed before). He states something to the effect that he wants everyone to feel his pain... which seems believable, but desperately needed to be expanded upon. As a piece of literature, the book can't decide if it wants to be first person narrative or stream of consciousness. Some of the chapters are written entirely in a normal first person narrative but end in a stream of consciousness style. I was honestly left wondering if there was a printing error in my book. Ellis really needed to pick one or the other. As for being a social commentary on the excess and greed of the '80s, Ellis certainly makes his point clear, but I'm left wondering why he would make such a commentary in a book about a serial killer. It doesn't mesh well together with the heavy-handedness of dealing with a psychopathic killer. If this is the point he really wanted to make, he could have made it just as clear in a different story entirely, one that didn't involve torture and murder, and left the story about the serial killer up to writers who actually know a thing or two about psychology. ...more info
- Sick, twisted and brilliant
American Psycho is an experience. I finished it a week ago and still think about it. The violence is so over the top it's just out of control. I have read some crazy things before like Palahniuk, or books about the Vikings or even Spanish Inquisition stuff. This book ranks up near the top on the violence meter.
I think it also stands out because of the books contrasts. One chapter is a grizzly torture and murder scene and the next is an articulate dissertation on Whitney Houston's first two albums. It's sick, twisted and brilliant.
Which is how I would describes Patrick Bateman, the "hero" of American Psycho. Beside being a murderous psychopath he is also fixated on fashion and being seen at the hottest clubs and restaurants. He is a complete narcissist but so is everyone else.
American Psycho takes place in New York City during the late 80's. From the food to the clothes to the vapidness of the characters, Ellis really captures the yuppie culture of the time and makes it come alive. You get the feeling he had to of been there.
Ellis adds humor and personality to the story and almost has us liking Patrick. Almost. I did like the way his sickness is revealed as the story goes on. At first it's just a sentence or two here or there to let you know there is something seriously wrong with this guy. But when you finally see just how wrong, it is shocking.
I definitely recommend American Psycho. I enjoyed it and am glad I read it. I think Ellis is a very talented writer and I am looking forward to reading some of his other books. Just know that when you start reading this book there is a bumpy road ahead.
I am going to spoil a little bit of the story, because it is necessary in this review, in order to understand the story, its context, and its meaning.
The main character, Patrick Bateman, is a charming, arrogant, and spiteful man. He desires, and usually receives, the best of everything in life. He has money, power, women, and friends. Why, then, is Patrick Bateman a sadistic, twisted, psychotic killer?
Answer: He's not. A careful reading of the story makes clear that he is not really doing the things that he claims.
There is much about this book that anyone would reasonably find offensive, but there are reasons to read it as well. Buried in the penumbra of the violence and the sexual acts, all of which likely never happened, under the daily routine of a man slavishly devoted to appearance rather than substance, there lies a question. Why is Patrick Bateman a sadistic, twisted, psychotic killer? That question I leave you to answer.
For the first part of the story, it is unclear what is going on. Bateman and friends wine and dine, switching partners at a whim, everyone seeming to be involved with everyone else. After a time, we learn Bateman's daily patterns. He wakes up, watches the same television show, goes to work for a brief period, goes to the gym, and then has dinner at any of a wealth of trendy, extremely expensive restaurants. He goes to the video rental store, rents violent pornography, and then goes home and watches late night television.
This continues until Patrick starts murdering people. Through the course of the novel, a large number of people are killed, violently, by Bateman. Several of these murders take place in extremely public places. This, along with other subtle details, more than demonstrates the likelihood that all of these events take place in the mind of Bateman. His comments about his own monstrosity, lead one to believe that perhaps there is more to the character than appears on the surface. Like the story.
The plot is not overwhelmingly complicated, and much of it could easily be disposed of. The graphic descriptions of murders performed by Bateman could have easily been less detailed, but I get the feeling that would have defeated the purpose. The graphic descriptions are intended to make it more believable that Patrick does the things that he does, mostly to make sure that most people don't question it.
The main character, and the only one worth discussing really, is Patrick Bateman. He is what all successful men dream of being, at least ostensibly. He is attractive, rich, popular with women, fashionable, wealthy, strong, etc. He has every characteristic that a man could desire, except an ounce of empathy.
The novel is set, predictably, in New York, but it could have been in any large American city. Los Angeles, Chigago, Seattle, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, etc. The setting is unimportant.
The theme of this novel is the darkness and evil in Patrick Bateman. It consumes him, driving him to murder many, many people in the story. Or does it?
A secondary theme of the novel, primary in most people's impression, the vanity and the profligate spending, are commentaries on our time. The importance of perception and acquisition to the secondary importance of people's feelings and lives. This theme obviously shone through, as so many consider this novel a social satire, which it isn't, really.
E. Point of View
The story is told universally from the point of view of the protagonist, Bateman. This is a necessary choice, perhaps, as the narrator is so unreliable. Other points of view of Bateman would have actually made this a richer, fuller, and deeper tale, complicating an otherwise simple character. Learning that Bateman was not a merely a psychotic killer, but had other characteristics beyond his vanity and vacuousness. Clearly, we will not see such traits in his personality with only his own point of view to guide us.
Uh, no comment.
Too long. Knock about two hundred pages off of this, and it would have been fantastically done. I am uncertain as to why it even was necessarily that long. I would hesitate to recommend this to anyone that I didn't know extremely well, and even then I may say it cautiously. Few are going to understand the true purpose of this work, as demonstrated by other reviews.
Harkius ...more info
- Best if read before seeing the movie.
I bought the book after seeing and enjoying the movie and all the themes it touched upon, and the book didn't disappoint. Captured in relentless and repetitive theme and detail is all the narcissism and image obsession of the stereotypical 80s.
The story, told as a first person narrative by the lead character, Patrick Bateman, is of a very wealthy, very successful finance exec living in New York City in the 80s. His life is a rigid routine and his focus is on all the outward trappings of the little slice of the world in which he lives. He watches the same TV show every morning, obsesses over returning video tapes on time, pays extreme attention to every little detail of his outward appearance and those around him, can identify every designer label worn by everyone around him, down to their socks, has endless arguments, obsessions and comparisons of what the hot restaurants and clubs are on any given day, discusses pop music in language that would make a Rolling Stone snob have palpitations, and in general, takes everything to the nth degree. Oh, and along the way, he commits many horrifically extreme acts of violence as casually as he ties his shoes.
The book is both a satire of the 80s rich-yuppie world and a story of how one man is attempting to find an identity through adopting as perfectly as possible all the trappings of the world in which he exists. Look past the violence, which is more graphic than most can imagine, and enjoy the book for all that it offers.
And, if you haven't seen the movie and want to read the book, PLEASE read the book first. Here's why:
If you have seen the movie, you know that it concludes with his realizing that all his violent acts seem to have occurred only in his imagination. Knowing this detracts from the reading of the book, because it dampens the horror you would likely feel in the earlier parts of the book. As the book progresses, two things happen: The acts of violence become more intense, graphic and frequent, and you, the reader, begin to question whether they are real. Many times, he declares to his friends and dinner companions that he did so and so horrible thing, and they completely ignore it, as if he never said it or as if it was just a joke, and some of the things he supposedly does would certainly go discovered. This slow realization is a key to the story, and knowing it beforehand is a detriment.
Beyond that, the movie digresses from the book in that it (the movie) actually has a plot and ending of a sort. The book lacks a narrative story line, instead painting a portrait of a man who is empty inside and spends his life seeking (and failing) to create an identity for himself by conforming to the norms of his micro-society to the best of his ability. ...more info
- American Sicko
This book went back and forth from being totally laughable to totally hideous. I knew it would be bad from the start, but nothing prepared me for what it ended up being.
As we all already know, Patrick Bateman is the poor little rich kid from Wall Street mostly spending his days behind his desk reading Sports Illustrated between lunch and raquet ball appointments. He happens to be completely devoid of all human feeling. His life is an obsession of designer suits, what everyone is eating, and how much money people are making. Knowing what brand of shoes one is wearing trumps remembering someone's name in Patrick's world. Patrick's life is so empty he constructs elaborate and disgusting fantasies in order to simply feel SOMETHING. Or are they fantasies? The answer is going to be up to each individual reader and I'll leave it at that since the answer really isn't that important anyway.
Aside from going back and forth from laughable to hideous, it also teetered between boring and gross. Exactly how is it interesting to know every detail of this guys morning routine and what he washes his hair with or exfoliates with? What was the point? And the diatribes about suits and exotic food in every chapter simply had to be skipped over because of the tediousness of the nonsense. For the most part, the gore I could handle more so than the repetition of this mess.
And the gore is another story. Because of the predictability of this story, one can easily forecast when it's going to be "bad." Thankfully, there were many parts I was able to skip and save myself some nightmares. For the parts I did make it through, I seriously have to wonder about this author's mental stability, and this is perhaps the most disturbing part of this book entirely. It's frightening to know this stuff is floating around in someone's mind, and this same person is wandering the same streets as unsuspecting individuals. If the writer is sane, I can only conclude this was a sick indulgence he needed to get out his system for whatever reason. Can't say I'll be reading any more of his books.
Finally, this book simply wasn't written very well.
There was no character building at all. I get that Patrick was intended to be a plastic, empty suit but there had to more in there. Ellis teased us by showing glimmers of humanity in Patrick and then snatching them away with no explanation. Expanding on this would have added so much, it seemed he took the lazy way out by simply slam dunking it. It was rambling without a resolve in many of the scenes. The painfully detailed, out of left field editorials of the music world left me hating Genesis, Hewy Lewis, Whitney Houston etc, not to mention INXS.
I'll be the first to recognize I probably was not the intended audience for this and therefore, just didn't get it.
So proceed with caution. I tend to believe everyone knows, like me, his or her limits. I know I can take a lot, but this book reached, if not exceeded my boundaries. I'm not sure I ever reached that before in a fiction read. Keep the book hidden from your kids, and don't put it on your list of things to buy for grandma. It's a harsh, difficult, painful and uncomfortable read, but also tedious and boring. I guess to each his own, but this one definitely wasn't for me.
- Freaky Book - but good
It's been a long time since I read a book that really freaked me out, and made my skin crawl. But this one did it. From living through the 80s, I understand the AMEX/business card obsession all to well. This book is not for the faint of heart. It's a creepy, disturbing look at someone who is almost all the way undone, and is only hanging on by a loose thread. ...more info
The controversial novel about a handsome serial killer who moves among the young and trendy in 1980s New York."
Perfectly describes what the book is about, but doesn't give a hint about what the book is.
It's a social satire, with emphasis on fashion, food, music (I've had Genesis songs stuck in my head for two days) - material wealth, status, fidelity (lack of), identity (lack of) etc. It is brilliantly done. There are an exceptional number of clever laugh out loud moments, though make no mistake, it's dark humor. This guy makes Dexter Morgan look like Ramona the Pest.
The sex scenes are intense and vividly described. The violence in this book is graphic. Wince inducing. Senseless ... random. Upsetting. The last 100 pages contain the most gruesome things I've ever read, and I've read all but one Palahnuik.
Bret Easton Ellis built the main character's madness masterfully. The brilliance in this novel lies in the strong ties to reality. It is hard to imagine people so totally consumed with fashion, trends, wealth, elitism ... and yet, I've known some (dated one), and the truth is very often stranger than fiction.
My absolutely favorite part of the book is a 4-5 page dinner reservation discussion in the last 100 pages. It was perfect.
I would love to be able to recommend this book unconditionally. I can't. But if you can stomach unimaginable violence (which is a small percentage of the book) the novel is well worth the read, and could end up making my top ten list for 2009.
- It's a certain trip.
This book is written very well. The message is haunting throughout the entire book (yuppies always confusing people because everyone looks the same, super insecurity, and brutal insane killing). The only problem I had to overcome when reading this is Ellis' need to describe everyone's attire. That was a bit over done, but I understand he was reinforcing a valid point of vainess throughout the novel. All and all the book was both scary and compelling; It made you sometimes feel sorry for Patrick (the main character)for his downward spiral into madness....more info
- Interchangeable parts
I've just finished reading American Psycho. I'd have to say this was the most disturbing book I've ever read, and yet it was compellingly readable.
Ellis is brilliant in not depicting the first graphic murder until 150 or so pages into the book. This gives the reader a chance to be completely wrapped up in the novel's social satire, with only a few glimpses of the horrors to come. If Ellis had started with the gore from the first chapter, I would have flung down the book as unreadable. (As it is, I had to skim the most graphic scenes in shock, because I knew I couldn't tolerate all the details.)
For example, the scene in which Bateman takes his blood-soaked sheets to a Chinese laundry was both hilarious and (bearably) shocking. We are gradually made to realize how many people are complicit in Bateman's murders, from the maids who silently clean up the gore to the co-workers who hear his confessions and laugh them off as a joke.
I loved how the novel never showed any of the Wall Streeters doing a lick of work. It seemed Bateman's major occupations were renting and watching videotapes (why didn't he just buy Body Double, for God's sake?) and listening to vapid pop music. I personally loved the irony of the "music" chapters, in that they are clearly written by a psychotic who doesn't understand that the banal songs he is painstakingly explicating have no emotional content at all. Bateman's pseudo-understanding of human emotion is just as studied and hollow as his obsessive-compulsive fashion expertise.
The long descriptions of fashion details which have struck some reviewers as boring seem to me intrinsic to both the characterization and the social commentary. No person in this book seems to be described by how they look in terms of hair, face, expressions, emotions, or other personalizing characteristics; Bateman sees only clothes and hardbodies. Bateman's perception of every character only in terms of what he/she is wearing--as if clothes could be distinguishing characteristics--leads to the constant cases of mistaken identity. If you only look at clothes, haircuts, and identical (nonprescription) eyeglasses, how can anyone tell anyone apart?
The interchangeableness of one person for another sparks most of the humor as well as the deep sadness in this book. For Bateman, there is nothing inside any interchangeable suit except equally interchangeable meat and bones. He never connects with any of the girlfriends, who are only greedy for his looks and wealth anyway--his image. Luis and Jean are tiny, inconsequential exceptions--not strong enough to break through or fill Bateman's inner void. I was impressed that Luis was the one person Bateman started to kill but then didn't--but only because he was momentarily stunned by Luis's feelings for him. Incredibly, Luis actually seemed to see someone in Bateman! And Bateman's subsequent disorientation seems to have been the only thing that momentarily saved his life.
All in all, I'm in awe of this book for its depiction of a descent into madness--even though I'm not the book's ideal reader, and had to wimp out when it came to some of the gore.
- A great book that is hard to stomach, but pass the salt
"American Psycho" is a savage vivisection of society and relationships as portrayed through the depraved exploits of Patrick Bateman. Bateman flourishes in the yuppie-driven mores of the 80's. His wealth and intelligence are the facilities of his deranged obsessions and evil compulsions. Rather than satisfy the blood-lust, Bateman's oblivious victims stoke and embolden his psychotic frenzy.
"American Psycho" is extraordinarily graphic. Sex and violence imagery explode from the pages with Bateman-like fury. However, it is the duality of the character that is truly unnerving. Bateman can be charming, can be ruthless, can be generous, can be vicious, can be insightful, can be shallow, can be elegant, can be disgusting. Bateman's character attracts you with his panache and repulses you with his horrific offensives. It is an emotionally disturbing journey where sanity has no compass.
Ultimately it is clear this Bret Ellis novel transcends time and place. It is an expose of the human condition and how it can be exploited, deceived and imperiled....more info
- Very disturbing
I almost could not finish this because it was so graphic and scary to realize, that someone real could think this way. Also disturbing that someone could fantasize/fabricate this to create as a novel. At some points difficult to read because of all the name-dropping of brands that were unfamiliar to me. I read this only because the movie was so well done. This book disturbed me so much, I forbid my ex-husband to read it for fear he would get bad ideas planted in his head. He was sick to start off with. The book gets three stars for being very well-written. The author achieved the goal of really freaking me out....more info
- Gore bores
Pat Bateman, a product of Exeter and Harvard living in Manhattan and working on Wall Street, backed up by a trust fund, is an "arbiter elegantiarum" of the most refined taste in clothes and food, with a side hobby of grisly serial murder. He narrates the whole story in the first person and present tense.
There are some nice take-offs on competitive modish consumerism. In one scene the juenesse doree compete for the most fashionable and stylish business cards. I enjoyed the satire on fancy food in the scene where "for an appetizer I ordered radicchio with some kind of free-range squid. Anne and Scott had the [sic] monkfish ragout with violets." (In spite of his sophistication Bateman is one of those who think that restaurant food has to be preceded by "the.")
He applies the same technique to long-winded and detailed descriptions of clothes and cosmetics, not only his own but of every character he meets. I wasn't sure if these were also meant satiirically. Sometimes they were repetitious and became exactly like reading a Jos. A Bank catalog. The same applies to the splatterpunk, Books about nasty people doing nasty things are not necessarily bad. It's an old literary tradition (think of Macbeth, King David, Raskolnikov, and the cannibalistic goings on in the House of Atreus) but if gore bores then what's the point?
I had enjoyed "Less Than Zero" which used the same gimmick, schtick, trope, or whatever, of describing the casual amorality of rich people with a weird set of values, but this disappointed me.