American Psycho: Bret Easton Ellis

To continue along the dystopian theme that came with Filth last week, I would like to talk about American Psycho. I say dystopia hesitantly, as there is not much dystopia in this book. That’s the scary bit. This review is well-timed for me, I think, as I was literally just reading a review by Irvine Welsh (Filth author) about American Psycho, in which he discusses the cultural relevance of the book’s graphic violence and why it should not be read as a patriarchal attack upon the female populous, as much of the controversy centred around the idea that this book glorifies rape and violence.

The book is written from the point of view of Patrick Bateman, a handsome, wealthy, sophisticated member of the elite,with a high-powered job in the city and women at every turn. He’s the self-proclaimed epitome of success, living out the modern American Dream. But the ‘dream’ has become twisted. Bateman’s character spirals into an abyss of depravity and murder to hunt for some meaning in the bland consumerist culture of the 1980s. There are some truly awful scenes in this book, with Ellis blending pornography with gore to emphasise a black satirical point about the culture America and people themselves have created.

I read American Psycho with a sick fascination. Every part of me wanted to put the damn book down and run as far away from it as possible. But it’s a thought-provoking piece. And definitely a classic. Only negative is the chapters just dedicated to Bateman’s obsessive ranting about certain bands or his apartment furnishings in big detail – I understand why they’re needed, to convey the compulsive nature of his character, but they aren’t half hard to read through. This novel is not about the vile rape and abuse of the women (I’m not even going to start on the cannibalism), it is an important part, but the point is that a man like Bateman, the kind of guy that people look up to, is able to function relatively unnoticed in high society. The lack of resolution in the finale is terrifying, as if he will continue forever – unstoppable.

Side point: THE BOOK IS SO MUCH WORSE THAN THE FILM DO NOT EVEN GO THERE – the people who have just seen the film do not understand.


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