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March 8, 2010 | by  | in Books | [ssba]

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis


Infinitely more likable than that other American psycho George W, protagonist extraordinaire Patrick Bateman is the ultimate yuppie: offensively rich and deeply metrosexual, with a personality-destroying job on Wall Street to seal the deal. Naturally, he must be a serial killer. Bateman indeed finds himself adrift in a self-created world of narcissism, materialism, and emotional blankness.

To fill the void he turns, not to Oprah-endorsed self-help books, but to murder, torture, rape, and other things of the psychotic variety. The violent acts themselves—described so graphically and precisely that you’ll feel both hypnotised and indecent just reading them—comprise less than a third of the book, but interspersed between the gory sadism is a surprisingly coherent plot, as Patrick narrates in excruciating detail the trendy luncheons, facials, and swanky parties that make up his almost non-existence.

He just wants to fit in, you see. Among the customary sex and drug use, Bateman scores bonus crazy points for his obsessive clothing descriptions, which will leave you more schooled on eighties high fashion than you ever thought possible, and that alone is reason enough to read this book. The tone of bored horror throughout is sustained by soulless corporate Americans, although Easton Ellis depicts New York as a city so lost in vanity that even the homeless man Bateman kills on the street seems like a sell-out.

The book has tons of standout black humour, like the instance where Bateman develops a transcendent spiritual connection with Bono at a U2 concert, or devotes a chapter solely to Phil Collins, which is as close to human as we see him get. Either way, Patrick is compelling because he represents man without soul. You’ll find yourself asking “Inner beauty? What inner beauty?”


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