Review: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

American PsychoIn American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis imaginatively explores the incomprehensible depths of madness and captures the insanity of violence in our time or any other. Patrick Bateman moves among the young and trendy in 1980s Manhattan.

Young, handsome, and well educated, Bateman earns his fortune on Wall Street by day while spending his nights in ways we cannot begin to fathom. Expressing his true self through torture and murder, Bateman prefigures an apocalyptic horror that no society could bear to confront.


I’m amazed my head did not explode while reading American Psycho. I’ve seen the movie plenty of times. I was aware the character is living in a very superficial world. I even knew there was a whole chapter on Phil Collins and his music. None of this prepared me.

I’m left with a mix of sympathy, pity, and loathing for Pat Bateman. He is a charming character, he has a great sense of humour, and he is lonely. Lonely, bored, and beyond superficial. Except, not as superficial as his friends. This surprised me, but then would he be so likeable if he was as greedy and empty as his supporting characters? I doubt it. There has to be some humanity present in a protagonist for the reader to connect. Pat Bateman has just enough to make him sympathetic, but only just.

It does take awhile to get used to the bombardment of brand names and places being flung at you from Bateman’s observations of everything around him. People aren’t introduced via the usual means of physical and character description. No, it’s their clothes. Everything they are wearing and eating and drinking and holding and places they are going. I’m used to reading descriptions of character’s faces. By the end of it, my mind had created this group of invisible people running around in expensive designer clothing. It sounds funny, but when you couple it with the story, you just feel like you’re going as nuts as Bateman.

In saying all that, I’m not sure if I really got used to reading the brands over and over again. It’s hard when you yourself aren’t the type of person to focus so intently on what people are wearing and doing. I personally believe people can wear what they want, do what they want, as long as they aren’t harming others. Go crazy. If you want to wear a onesie to the shops, if you want to wear ugg boots to a restaurant, I don’t care. I may not do it. Sure, I have a onesie, but I’ll only wear it as far as my mailbox. This doesn’t mean I care if you wear it all day and travelling everywhere.

I believe I eventually just became numb, out of necessity, and by then Bateman had gone into his spiral and things just weren’t adding up anyway. The story is just insane. It’s insane, exhausting, and completely engrossing! I tried to gobble it up my eyes would burn after a reading session. It’s enough just to read the designer names, but then there’s a whole chapter on Whitney Houston and Huey and the News. Not just Phil Collins. It’s a weird juxtaposition of difficult to get through, but not being able to immerse myself deep enough into the story for my satisfaction. Not because I couldn’t, but because I wanted to get further in.

As for if he did it or didn’t? I have no idea. My brain is still recovering and I’m sure it will be for awhile. I’m still trying to absorb and comprehend the madness within American Pscyho, let alone trying to solve the if he did it scenario. Now, I must watch the movie. I didn’t get enough madness, apparently.

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