O! what Man will do fore a Rime!

Self-proclaimed bibliophile, culture nut and nerdfighter. English lit. and linguistics geek. Future career in publishing.


American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis

Note: The review below was taken directly from my Goodreads account.


Warning: Spoilers be down below!



I feel like I should do a PSA for this book before my review, so here it goes:

Warning: This book contains graphic sex and violence. If you have a queasy stomach or don't like non-missionary sex, then this book may not be for you.

There are a lot of things I really enjoyed about this book, and none of them are the gruesome bits, which I'll admit is a bit surprising. The real reason I found this book so enjoyable was Patrick Bateman as a character. He's just so fascinating.

(1) The Nail that Sticks Out

Fitting in is a big part of American Psycho. Bateman is constantly stressing out about what people think of him and he wants to be accepted into his group of fellow yuppies. But at the same time, he doesn't want to be just another dude in a well-tailored suit; that's why he is constantly letting slip to his coworkers and friends about his murderous feelings. Of course, none of them seem to actually hear what he's saying. At one point, a character hears "murders and executions" as "mergers and acquisitions".

Bateman blends in so well with his fellow yuppies that multiple people throughout the novel mistake him for a multitude of different people. One person mistakes him for two different people in the same night! Bateman becomes an interchangeable face of corporate America, which also seems to drive him to commit the acts he does.

(2) Gym, Tan, Laundry

Bateman is obsessed with fashion and high brow restaurants and luxury items. He is constantly going to get a pedicure, a massage, etc. He works out at the gym for two hours every morning before work. He goes to the tanning salon regularly (and regularly gets complimented on his tan) and is jealous of a colleague who buys his own tanning bed. Every time a person is introduced into the scene, Bateman recounts their wardrobes in extreme detail. In fact, it looks like Bateman is the go-to guy for fashion advice. He freaks out multiple times about whether his hair looks good. Besides that, he is so over-invested in material items that he gets envious of another man's business card because it has, what he deems, the perfect font, colour and detail.

All of this attention Bateman pays to his appearance demonstrates his obsession with being attractive and putting on a facade (an interaction with an old friend hints that Bateman comes from a very wealthy background and doesn't actually need to work on Wall Street).

(3) Break It Down Now

Bateman goes through an interesting breakdown throughout the course of the novel. It appears at the beginning that he has his life together, aside from the casual outbursts of murderous intent, but slowly loses control of it. We see this in the way that he builds up to the first kill we see in the novel to the frenzied murder spree that occurs near the end of the novel.

This breakdown throws Bateman's reliability as a narrator into jeopardy. Does he actually tell colleagues that he wants to mutilate these people or is it all in his mind? Are the murders he commits even real? (A homeless man and his dog, both whom we are meant to believe Bateman severely mutilated, make a re-occurrence, but the second time the man says he is a blinded Vietnam veteran--is the truth that Bateman blinded him with a knife or that something happened during the Vietnam War that resulted in the loss of his eyesight?) Everything falls under scrutiny and speculation.

(4) Misogyny at Its Finest

I don't think Ellis himself is a misogynist, but Bateman sure as hell is. He hates women with a vengeance and only seeks to use them for their bodies: sexually or for murder. His favourite scene in a movie is when a woman gets drilled to death, and he jerks off to it. He skull-fucks dead girls, hates his girlfriend and treats women he has affairs with like shit. Women do not fair well when looked upon by Patrick Bateman.

Not only that, but he's a racist and a bigoted homophobe, too. Also, an animal abuser.

(5) A Sociological Approach

This book is full of satire and it shows. Bateman mocks people for not wearing haute couture, designer clothing, but the thing is that no one cares except his yuppie friends and himself. He can't get a table at the hottest restaurant in town, but his stoner brother can. No one is impressed by his platinum American Express card because everyone else has one. His girlfriend overly worries about the salad that she didn't even make at her Christmas party; it was catered. His colleagues call him up to ask what the proper etiquette is for wearing a cummerbund. There's no way Ellis isn't mocking people with this attitude. No wonder Ellis makes Bateman a psychopath; it's hard to stay sane with the people who surround Bateman.

I don't have much else to say about the book because I can't really remember what I fully wanted to say (I admit that I'm watching Hell's Kitchen as I do this, so my attention is kind of divided). It's a very good book and I enjoy Ellis's style, but it can be off-putting. I definitely think it's worth the read though if you can stomach it.

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