Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Book Review: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Patrick Bateman is handsome, well educated, intelligent. He works by day on Wall Street, earning a fortune to complement the one he was born with. His nights he spends in ways we cannot begin to fathom.

"I've forgotten who I had lunch with earlier, and even more important, where."

Where to begin... first of all, let me preface this review by giving a trigger warning for almost every possible trigger you can think of: rape, animal abuse, torture... this book is not for the faint of heart! This book stands head and shoulders above the rest as the most disturbing book I've ever read. But, I absolutely loved it. Not because of how disturbing it was (although I did find that mostly entertaining), but because I've never laughed out loud so much whilst reading a book.

I LOVED getting inside Bateman's head, a true glimpse into the mind of a psychopath. He is severely deluded, shallow, neurotic... and yet I could happily read about his beauty routine and gym workouts forever (whilst making some notes of course - if only I had multiple hours to spend in the gym each day!!). In particular, I was sincerely impressed by Bateman's ability to identify exactly what designer you're wearing by sight alone - I mean, surely he is wasted in his job as an investment banker?! There must be some way he can make use of this incredible talent!

People had previously commented about how annoying it was when the book goes off on random tangents where Bateman breaks down different musical artists' careers. I found this weirdly enjoyable - particularly the chapters where he discusses Genesis and Whitney Houston in great detail. Although I was not too impressed when Bateman described Bruce Springsteen as overrated (but he made up for it by later telling a stranger on the street that Brilliant Disguise by the Boss was the happiest song he could think of - how depressing and sad is that song... LOL). Bateman's obsession for serial killers also reminded me of myself, he would slide that chat in anywhere he could. Although he did get one of his quotes wrong, attributing a quote by Ed Kemper to Ed Gein - easily done I guess *shrugs*

I can understand why the repetitive nature of this book would be annoying for some - Bateman's life is basically a cycle of brutal murders/torture followed by him and his fellow investment bankers trying to decide where to make reservations for that night - but ultimately I found it strangely captivating. It's just so funny and full of satire that I couldn't NOT love it, it really appealed to my dark sense of humour.

American Psycho also provides a really disturbing social commentary on the upper-class in Manhattan in the 1980s, a society full of racism and sexism, where a lot of emphasis is placed on image and wealth. Bateman has a crazy obsession with Donald Trump - a real representation of the times - and it honestly baffles me that this man is now President of the United States. Ellis really succeeds in painting a rather despicable picture of consumerism in America.

The murders and torture are brutal - consider this a warning! It's graphic and detailed, and the creativity and originality that Ellis manages to bring to some of them is staggering. The sex scenes are pornographic in terms of the level of the detail included, and I actually found these much more uncomfortable to read than the murders.

This book won't be for everyone, and it's one of those books that although I enjoyed almost every page, I would feel cautious recommending it to others. Just prepare yourself if you decide to pick it up! And please don't think of me as one sick puppy for enjoying this satirical masterpiece.

4.5 stars.


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