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American Psycho [Paperback]

Bret Easton Ellis
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (963 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 6 1991 Vintage Contemporaries
Now a major motion picture from Lion's Gate Films starring Christian Bale (Metroland), Chloe Sevigny (The Last Days of Disco), Jared Leto (My So Called Life), and Reese Witherspoon (Cruel Intentions), and directed by Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol).

In 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.

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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.

Review

“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)
First Sentence
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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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Make Up Your OWN Mind May 26 2005
Format:Paperback
I decided to read American Psycho after hearing the title whispered in social circles. It's so violent. Too graphic. What's the point? Comments only fueled my desire to read the novel Bret Easton Ellis tried to get published in 1992, without great success, for some time.
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.
What Works:
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Literary Pop Bonanza June 25 2004
Format:Paperback
English teachers everywhere decry the shocking decline of literary merit in the deluge of writing to be found on the shelves of bookstores today. Most authors are content to write passingly entertaining stories that contain no more impact than the weight of the book itself. American Psycho, however, rides the line.
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece? Not quite... Oct. 16 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Social commentary? Sure. Exceptionally good social commentary for what you have to wade through? No way.
With all the gory scenes depicting women being tortured and [word] in the worst way imaginable, it is an incredibly difficult book to read through asking yourself "is all this really necessary?" Apparently Ellis thinks so. But why?
In the end, it all boils down to an excess of violence and [word], and the author fails to do anything but cancel out any interesting ideas with all the blood fantasies and gore. So it gets boring fast. Disgusting, gross, and excessive, but boring none the less.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars relies too much on shock value July 10 2004
Format:Paperback
I do consider Bret Easton Ellis to be one of the great young writers of his generation, but this book seems too intent on pushing the limits of graphic depiction of violence and I felt that detracted, rather than added to the book. It is tough to read and I'm not squeemish. What kept me going, was curiousity over how much of what was happening was real, and how much is being dreamed up by a schizophrenic mind but that really is left totally open. Be warned, there are graphic depictions of torture, murder, and dismemberment. But Ellis is a good writer and the novel is well written for sure. I enjoyed Less than Zero, and the Informers far more than this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Depiction of Vacuous Materialism at it's Worst May 25 2004
By CreepyT
Format:Paperback
Patrick Bateman embodies the epitome of American materialism and consumerism. Furthermore, he is proof that one can have it all, monetarily speaking, and yet still have insatiable desires. Alas, money is definitely not everything. He's a mere pawn at the hands of corporate America whose existence is truly devoid of real substance. When not working on wallstreet, club hopping, or buying designer label items, Patrick Bateman lives an alternate lifestyle. During the day, he seems like any other normal man trying to make a living in Manhattan. His personal life, however, is extremely morbid and quite gruesome.
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.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars best book ever !
Best Book ever !!
Published 7 days ago by Martin G.
2.0 out of 5 stars slack.
More of a book on yuppie fashion than any crime, this sad slack book was 90% about what expensive fashions people were wearing. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Andy Vogt
2.0 out of 5 stars Too Dark for Civilization
I recommend no one read this book. While I recognize the author's right, in a free society, to publish this text, the writing herein has great capacity to let evil into one's soul. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Robert
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Good condition for a very good price
everything as described
book is used but is in a very good condition, looks almost new.
Published 8 months ago by Jockk
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect
Perfect Condition, great price, delivered quickly. Book was a nice size, easy print to read, no folded pages or damage whatsoever. Awesome!
Published 13 months ago by Violet
1.0 out of 5 stars this book sucks
I think the title says it all but because I need more than twenty words, I'll add that pointless violence and an entire chapter on huey lewis and the news should be enough for... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Tyler Ducharme
2.0 out of 5 stars A very hipster book.
I bought that novel after seeing the movie. I wanted to understand a little more. The bitter, sarcastic, disilusioned and dark humor tone of it had left a very strong impression... Read more
Published 21 months ago by BeatrixB
4.0 out of 5 stars Ambiguous and creepy
Patrick Bateman is a typical 80's yuppie: rich, handsome, shallow, sexist, homophobic, materialistic, narcissistic. Read more
Published 23 months ago by G. Larouche
5.0 out of 5 stars I am impressed
I have always loved the movie.

Once I read the book I was even more impressed.

This is a work of art !
Published on Dec 13 2010 by Fred_Norris
5.0 out of 5 stars Though Ellis isn't great, this book is
'American Psycho' is a truly great book. Extremely witty, dark and well written. Easily his best book. In fact, none of his others really compare...at all. Read more
Published on Dec 13 2007 by Benjamin Anderson
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