Review: American Psycho

Review: American PsychoAmerican Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Published by Vintage on March 6, 1991
Genres: Contemporary, Horror, Thriller
Pages: 401
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

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. He is twenty-six years old and living his own American Dream.

What do three young, female librarians choose as the first title for their book club? Why, American Psycho, of course. This is not your average book club. I just wanted to share our uniqueness with everyone. Now to the review.

I really wanted to read this book, even though I hated Less Than Zero, one of Bret Easton Ellis’ other books. Lord save me from the privileged and their issues. I definitely liked American Psycho better, but I wouldn’t say that I liked it. Nor did I hate it precisely. However, I would be skeptical of anyone who loved it.

Here’s the thing. On one hand, this is fairly well done, in the sense that Ellis is definitely getting his point across about American society in the 80s and what all of the materialism does to people. On the other, it is really hard to read and not even because of the gory bits, which are really gross and hard to read, but do not expect those for a hundred pages plus.

The real difficulty for me, the thing that made this book such a slog to get through, was his repetitiveness. You can count on hearing about what Patrick Bateman and every other person he sees are wearing, every visible item and their designer. People are constantly mistaken for one another. Bateman constantly asks about his hair. There are inevitable descriptions of overpriced restaurants and their tiny food, along with the disgusting amounts of money spent there (hundreds of dollars for one meal….in the 80s). And, don’t forget, that Bateman needs to return those video tapes. And those are just a selection of the topics you can expect to read about in almost all of the many chapters.

At least, the repetitiveness does get to his character, vanity and completely fatuous lifestyle. The worst parts, the ones I deem entirely unnecessary to the flow of the story, are the chapters on popular musical artists in the 1980s. Genesis, Whitney Houston, and Huey Lewis and the News are the folks so honored. Why? No clue. To show that he’s obsessed with music? I already got that from his constant, repetitive mentions of music. I recommend skipping these, as they do not advance the plot one whit.

The best part of this book was how outdated it now is. Patrick Bateman constantly brags about how he owns all of the coolest tech, but since it’s the 80s that means top of the line in music was…the walkman. Seriously. He argued with some other yuppie scum about how his walkman was better. Hilarious!

P.S. The actual high point of the book is when someone mistakenly refers to Bateman as Batman. I cannot tell you how I awesome I find this and I really hope it played some part in Bale’s career choices. Also, for those who are curious, the movie adaptation is pretty much spot on. Additionally, I am realizing how freaking weird it is that I saw that movie on a date…


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