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American Psycho Paperback – March 6, 1991
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From Library Journal
This review is based on the galley issued by Ellis's original publisher, Simon & Schuster, before it cancelled the book. The book is now going through the editing process at Vintage. There may be some changes in the final version. The indignant attacks on Ellis's third novel (see News, p. 17; Editorial, p. 6) will make it difficult for most readers to judge it objectively. Although the book contains horrifying scenes, they must be read in the context of the book as a whole; the horror does not lie in the novel itself, but in the society it reflects. In the first third of the book, Pat Bateman, a 26-year-old who works on Wall Street, describes his designer lifestyle in excruciating detail. This is a world in which the elegance of a business card evokes more emotional response than the murder of a child. Then suddenly, for no apparent reason, Bateman calmly and deliberately blinds and stabs a homeless man. From here, the body count builds, as he kills a male acquaintance and sadistically tortures and murders two prostitutes, an old girlfriend, and a child he passes in the zoo. The recital of the brutalization is made even more horrible by the first-person narrator's delivery: flat, matter-of-fact, as impersonal as a car parts catalog. The author has carefully constructed the work so that the reader has no way to understand this killer's motivations, making it even more frightening. If these acts cannot be explained, there is no hope of protection from such random, senseless crimes. This book is not pleasure reading, but neither is it pornography. It is a serious novel that comments on a society that has become inured to suffering. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/90 and 12/90.
- Nora Rawlinson, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“Bret Easton Ellis is a very, very good writer [and] American Psycho is a beautifully controlled, careful, important novel…. The novelist’s function is to keep a running tag on the progress of culture; and he’s done it brilliantly…. A seminal book.” —Fay Weldon, The Washington Post
“A masterful satire and a ferocious, hilarious, ambitious, inspiring piece of writing, which has large elements of Jane Austen at her vitriolic best. An important book.” —Katherine Dunn
“A great novel. What Emerson said about genius, that it’s the return of one’s rejected thoughts with an alienated majesty, holds true for American Psycho…. There is a fever to the life of this book that is, in my reading, unknown in American literature.” —Michael Tolkin
“The first novel to come along in years that takes on deep and Dostoyevskian themes…. [Ellis] is showing older authors where the hands come to on the clock.” —Norman Mailer, Vanity Fair
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In American Psycho Patrick Bateman is a wealthy wall-street investor who, at night, likes to torture and murder people. His madness is explored in this book in ways that I found to be morbidly fascinating. It’s not everyday an author takes the initiative to create such an intricate character with two sides to him – the yuppie and the murderer.
Patrick is a man of fine tastes, well trimmed business suits and perfectly sharpened knives. It’s rather shocking what you read, yet you can’t stop. Though at times I found it a little hard to keep up with the narrative, though that just gives credit to the idea that Patrick is an unreliable narrator.
Bret Easton Ellis certainly paints a bloody, gore-strewn picture with this book. Makes books like Dexter seem so tame.
Will most likely never read this book again, and hopefully I will soon forget how much this man and me are alike.
However, lest one mistakenly describe the explicit scenes as unnecessary... they are actually a brilliant part of an entirely well-crafted novel. Ellis carefully weaves macabre into sexual encounters, allowing for substantial periods that read like an erotic novel rather than serial killer confessions. In turn, this heightens the reader's eventual discomfort, making him feel not only disgust for the depravity, but also dissonance within himself.
If you can withstand the controversial elements, the true genius of Ellis' work is in his handling of the yuppie mundane: three characters' discourse regarding the merits of various types of water (bottled/ purified/ distilled/ sparkling/ seltzer/ etc.), Bateman's antiquated compulsion to return videotapes on time, and the comedically irrational, yet earnest fear of doing the wrong thing (terror that Bateman's hair is out of place because he used a new hair product, that Evelyn's catered Waldorf salad was bad, etc.). The satire is masterful because Ellis never criticizes his characters' ridiculous behavior, allowing it to be even more raw, unguarded, and pathetic. The joke is that no one is laughing. Except the reader- of course.
True observation genius lies within these pages. The scariest part is how relevant the Yuppie satire remains today. Just change the names of the restaurants/clubs and you have a disturbingly similar window into New York's investment banking scene in 2011.
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Other than that, Wow what a book!Read more