Book Review: American Psycho
‘repulsive, a bloodbath serving no purpose save that of morbidity, titillation and sensation… pure trash, as scummy and mean as anything, it depicts, a dirty book by a dirty writer’
‘totally hateful … violent junk … no discernible plot, no believable characterization, no sensibility at work that comes anywhere close to making art out of all the blood and torture’
Amongst such reviews it is not exactly surprising that Bret Easton Ellis’ 400 page social satire is still a literary icon two decades after publication. As we all know, the more scandalized the critics, the more piqued the curiosities of potential readers. 1.6 million of them to be exact. American Psycho has the sly appeal of pulp fiction mingled with brilliantly turning a horrific reflection of the consumerist lifestyle in on itself.
Patrick Bateman is a Wall Street investment banker and to this reader, possessed the desensitized eyes of the corporation. Towards the less fortunate he held not only lack of sympathy but a vicious contempt, not understanding why everyone who was not as wealthy and privileged as him had to exist and ruin the scenery for everyone who was.
Can you not see yourself preferring to buy the more expensive product, lounging in the more lavish restaurant, revealing yourself in sleeker clothes and wanting to experience the more extravagantly packaged services? Then you might just relate to Mr. Bateman.
The controversy was not around the fact that to Bateman ‘surface, surface, surface was all that anyone found meaning in. This was civilization as I saw it, colossal and jagged’. The outrage was over the 16 pages of gore that would probably make you close the book and take a break from the inhumanity of it all. One critic points out that during this depiction of monstrosity there is conveniently no police, no screams heard, no smells of rotting corpses smelt. That is precisely the point- truer in this day and age than ever. No one is watching. No one places any value over sentiments. If suddenly your most ‘interesting’ colleague goes missing, no one bats an eyelash. It’s simply not ‘hip’ to care. Bateman sees people the way corporations see people – not as unique snowflakes but as objects to be collected, depreciated and consumed. The reason no one suspects him is because there is no him. He is anonymous, one of millions – not even his own work colleagues can place a name to the face and vice versa.
As unpopular as reading anything over 140 characters is nowadays, this mirror on society is worth your time and the ensuing nightmares that will probably follow.