American Psycho Paperback – Mar 6 1991
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From Library Journal
This review is based on the galley issued by Ellis's original publisher, Simon & Schuster, before it cancelled the book. The book is now going through the editing process at Vintage. There may be some changes in the final version. The indignant attacks on Ellis's third novel (see News, p. 17; Editorial, p. 6) will make it difficult for most readers to judge it objectively. Although the book contains horrifying scenes, they must be read in the context of the book as a whole; the horror does not lie in the novel itself, but in the society it reflects. In the first third of the book, Pat Bateman, a 26-year-old who works on Wall Street, describes his designer lifestyle in excruciating detail. This is a world in which the elegance of a business card evokes more emotional response than the murder of a child. Then suddenly, for no apparent reason, Bateman calmly and deliberately blinds and stabs a homeless man. From here, the body count builds, as he kills a male acquaintance and sadistically tortures and murders two prostitutes, an old girlfriend, and a child he passes in the zoo. The recital of the brutalization is made even more horrible by the first-person narrator's delivery: flat, matter-of-fact, as impersonal as a car parts catalog. The author has carefully constructed the work so that the reader has no way to understand this killer's motivations, making it even more frightening. If these acts cannot be explained, there is no hope of protection from such random, senseless crimes. This book is not pleasure reading, but neither is it pornography. It is a serious novel that comments on a society that has become inured to suffering. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/90 and 12/90.
- Nora Rawlinson, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“Bret Easton Ellis is a very, very good writer [and] American Psycho is a beautifully controlled, careful, important novel…. The novelist’s function is to keep a running tag on the progress of culture; and he’s done it brilliantly…. A seminal book.” —Fay Weldon, The Washington Post
“A masterful satire and a ferocious, hilarious, ambitious, inspiring piece of writing, which has large elements of Jane Austen at her vitriolic best. An important book.” —Katherine Dunn
“A great novel. What Emerson said about genius, that it’s the return of one’s rejected thoughts with an alienated majesty, holds true for American Psycho…. There is a fever to the life of this book that is, in my reading, unknown in American literature.” —Michael Tolkin
“The first novel to come along in years that takes on deep and Dostoyevskian themes…. [Ellis] is showing older authors where the hands come to on the clock.” —Norman Mailer, Vanity Fair
Inside This Book(Learn More)
ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE is scrawled in blood red lettering on the side of the Chemical Bank near the corner of Eleventh and First and is in print large enough to be seen from the backseat of the cab as it lurches forward in the traffic leaving Wall Street and just as Timothy Price notices the words a bus pulls up, the advertisement for Les Miserables on its side blocking his view, but Price who is with Pierce & Pierce and twenty-six doesn't seem to care because he tells the driver he will give him five dollars to turn up the radio, "Be My Baby" on WYNN, and the driver, black, not American, does so. Read the first page
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Top Customer Reviews
No matter the genre, a novel is successful if it makes the reader think, pause and reassess the world. Ellis' novel offers a satirical look into the pampered New York elite through the eyes of an original and sociopath main character.
Narration: The first-person narration captures the reader instantly, introducing Patrick's innermost thoughts and fastidious rituals, such as cleaning his body with more products than your local Rite-Aid. Patrick takes the reader along to trendy, $25-cover clubs, scouting for "hardbodies" and lamenting about cheap drugs sold on the dance floor. Ellis has made a wise choice using Patrick as the narrator. As you read, you are engaged, participating. What is interesting is how the reader is both involved, and detached simultaneously (bringing me to the next point...)
Characters: Are sufficiently flat and underdeveloped, working both to keep the reader from empathizing too greatly with a victim, while also serving to support the satirical edge that in life, nobody gets too close. Patrick's monotonous lifestyle of work, working out, renting videos and spotting Les Miserables posters is all too familiar. He (as so many other characters in the book) cannot tell one acquaintance from another. Everyone in Patrick's world looks alike, corporate paper dolls with trophy wives/ lovers.
Structure: Easton uses run-on sentences and fragments to simulate the breakdown of Bateman's mind.Read more ›
Like all works of literary merit, A.P. requires a reader of some patience and discerning knowledge, especially at its onset, where the anti-hero, Patrick Bateman, painstakingly details the clothing, fragrances, and routines of himself and the satellite characters. As his madness begins to dominate his life, these lists shorten, indicating that Patrick's only concept of sanity is tied into the ridiculous and meaningless value statements society has placed on such things as Pierre Cardin luggage and designer eyewear.
Some reviewers have called Patrick an emotionless character, when nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it is Patrick's emotion that compels him to kill. Ellis has so delicately woven the more revealing aspects of Bateman's cruel soul into the sometimes benumbing lists of status symbols that the point can be easily lost (reading these reviews, that much is obvious), but the truth is, Ellis has a point. A powerful one.
He tips his hand somewhat in the last four or five pages of the book, when a yuppie named Price discusses the inconsistencies between Regan's outward appearances and his inner personality. This is where the novel's metaphors find their strongest purchase, and so become the most heavy-handed, but it remains a fine conclusion to a meticulously created story.
Of course, the book is severe and explicit, but not for shock's sake and not for the same reason that, say, pornography is.Read more ›
Ellis takes the reader inside the mind of the worst kind of serial killer. One who's cool, calm, collected, and yet randomly and intermittently irrational when succumbing to his desires. It's never quite clear to the reader what Bateman's motives are, nor is it at all evident that he understands his motives himself. This certainly serves to enhance this blatantly disturbing experience. Furthermore, the melodramatic first-person narrative is overtly passive, making it all the more unsettling.
The author does a wonderful job in this novel of depicting some of societies shortcomings. Our materialistic society is so wrapped up in fashion and technology that it's disgusting. In addition, we live in a world where violence is so commonplace that we've become numb to so much of it. Ellis uses Bateman's torturous murders to mirror these trends. With each killing, Bateman becomes more and more violent and gruesome. The same old style fails to excite him, and new techniques need to be persued.
This novel is definitely not for the easily disturbed, as it is probably the most horrifically disgusting and disturbing book I have read.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I read this book after seeing the moving with Christian Bale. As is typically the case, the book was far superior to the film adaptation. Read morePublished 28 days ago by Captain Canuck
Excellent book. Great insight into a sick twisted mind and an examination of "corporate America" culture.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Bateman is an emotionally bankrupt, handsome and intelligent Wall Street yuppie, setting the scene for a disturbing plummet into psychosis. Read morePublished 3 months ago by BookRecycler
The book is written in first person narrative style using the point of view of Patrick Bateman, he is obsessed with designer lables for everything.......everything!!! Read morePublished 13 months ago by cameron campbell