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
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Top Customer Reviews
American Psycho is Ellis screaming 'WAKE UP' in a dead man's ear. And you almost expect the milk-white eyes to open, because this book is LOUD. This is Ellis pointing an unloaded gun at people who don't believe they can die, pistolwhipping the fools to show them they can bleed. He hates them all for being him.
What makes it such powerful satire is the quieter comic absurdity hiding between the screaming and the Dahmeresque disassembling of the human form. The ridiculous power games and meaningless status symbols... the business cards, the restaurant reservations, the manicured physical perfection. A gold-plated culture; scratch the surface and you'll find the last generation's trash, compressed and deodorized and molded, then painted with gold.Read more ›
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 ›
Most recent customer reviews
Not a fan. I suppose to be a psycho you must be self absorbed, I'm just not interested in being another victim.Published 3 months ago by emaginaryMiker
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 6 months ago by Captain Canuck
Excellent book. Great insight into a sick twisted mind and an examination of "corporate America" culture.Published 7 months 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 8 months ago by BookRecycler