A Conversation for The Novels of Bret Easton Ellis

I Hated American Psycho (Complete Spoiler Alert)

Post 1

Baron Grim

I thought a friend was recommending this book when he told me it was messing with his mind. So I read it. Erg, if I could only go back in time and stop me from doing this now. American Psycho was the WORST book I've ever read in my life. The violence WAS disturbing. It's true that many of the books detractors probably never read it, but I did, from cover to cover, I gave it a fair shake. As I was reading it I finally got to some point where I REALLY wanted to stop reading, but I had to get to the end to see if it would redeem itself.... IT DIDN'T!!! As I said, I found the violence quite disturbing and I'm no shrinking violet when it comes to this. But the violent scenes in this book were very detailed and very misogynistic. But as much as the violent scenes disturbed me, they were the best scenes in the book. When Bateman wasn't killing or torturing someone, he bored me to tears! His obsession with fashion and expensive living and perfectly offwhite business cards numbed my brain. It was like reading a GQ magazine in hell for all Eternity (by Calvin Klein). So just as I was getting the pace of violence and fashion obsession, three times... three unsolicited, uninspired times he sticks an album review in the book. WHY I kept asking my self. I still don't know. I could really doubtfully care less about the subtle nuances of Huey Lewis and the News. But surely this book had to get somewhere, had to have some point. The detective was inching inexorably toward nabbing this ivy league reprobate. Surely when he catches him there will be some ironic twist or some insight into this fashion and torture addled mind of a serial killer...

NO!!!! The killer just quits killing??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? I've read this entire book just to have the antagonist JUST WALK AWAY???!!!!
I kid you not, I THREW the book across the room. I was livid. I wanted those hours of my life back.

I hope that someone out there didn't heed my spoiler warning and I just ruined it. Better yet, I hope someone was about to buy this book and I make them think twice of it. Even I cannot fully appreciate the depths of my loathing for this book. It comes from somewhere deep in my soul.

Oh, By the way, I have heard that Less Than Zero is Excellent. smiley - ok

I Liked American Psycho

Post 2

Tube - the being being back for the time being

Oh, I *liked* the book because of its changes from being detail-obsessed and maybe boring (for example the christmas shopping list) to the extreme violence.
The complete mind-lessness of bateman's daily life ... agrueing about the pizza Donald Trump likes, business cards and rosewood glass frames. Throughout the story people keep not-recognising each other (Bateman frequently calls peole by wrong names and the same happens to him, though no-one cares). This contrasts sharply with his eye for assesoirs and clothing. He can give a datailed account of what a person waers by what designer, but can't give you the name.

Somehow that all fits very well together, IMHO. smiley - ok

I Liked American Psycho

Post 3

Baron Grim

You know, maybe I just didn't get it. When the movie came out I read some reviews that commented on its sense of humor, a dark sense, but supposedly humor nonetheless. I didn't see any humor in the book, but since the movie was directed my a woman, I thought that just maybe I might have missed something. So, when the movie came out on cable tv, when I didn't actually have to spend any money on it, I watched it. I still failed to see anything humorous about it. I realised then that if I didn't get it, I didn't want it.

Someone later, who hadn't read AP or seen the first book, recommended the sequel saying it was funny. I could only watch the first 30 minutes before I changed the channel. (An infomercial was preferable). But I did see one thing quite funny. The sequel was NOT written by Bret Easton Ellis nor was it directly based on any of the characters. The main character in APII was the daughter of one of Patrick Bateman's victims. Before the movie begins, she supposedly had killed Bateman. So the funny thing I noticed is that when someone else wrote a sequel to American Psycho, the VERY first thing they felt compelled to do was to KILL PATRICK BATEMAN. Bravo.

I Liked American Psycho

Post 4

Baron Grim


"Someone later, who hadn't read AP or seen the first MOVIE..."

I really should have previewed that.

I Liked American Psycho

Post 5


Although it's perfectly fine to dislike the book, I think you've missed the point. The novel is a satire, and a very direct one in that you're seeing the world from the point of view of the character that Ellis uses to embody his satirical targets. If that makes sense.

Yes, it is disturbing and describes graphic sex and violence (I, for one, have no problem with this). But please don't make the mistake of assuming that Ellis is racist, homophobic or mysoginistic simply because his characters are. He goes out of his way to make Bateman the most dislikable, neurotic, anal-retentive character imaginable. Bateman (hey, this thread *is* 'spoiler'-marked) fantasises all this sex and violence in a feeble attempt to escape from the mundanity of his American middle-class yuppie life. In doing this, Ellis is exposing the vile nature of that social set, and its hypocrises. I personally found the essays on Huey Lewis and Genesis absolutely hilarious - and Ellis intended them to be.

The novel's style is incredibly tough on the reader (though not quite as tricky as stream of consciousness), as Bateman's obsessive-compulsive nature leads to overwraught brand-based descriptions; but this is a challenge I found worth overcoming. It's all part of the satire.

Through the entire novel, you can see Bateman's attempts to lift himself - by any means - out of the life he's dug himself into. Although he seems to love his yuppie lifestyle, he feels unfulfilled by it - buying more and more things doesn't fill the gaps in his life. His hatreds are sublimated into violent and sexual fantasies; Ellis is exposing man's bestial nature, something that middle-class America tries to smother with products, fashion, parties and money.

It's not the best novel in the world, not the funniest, and not the most effective satire, but there's really nothing quite like it. And as a savage indictment of Wall Street yuppies, it's great.

Oh, and the 'urinal cake' scene is, I think, the best part of the book. It's concise, funny and viciously effective.

I Still Hate American Psycho

Post 6

Baron Grim

I didn't exactly miss the point. The point was just too simple for me to see the humor. I got it, now what? I never thought Ellis himself was homophobic or misogynistic. I knew it was just his character, Bateman. I did have the feeling that Ellis was using the Bateman character as an outlet for the worst stuff Ellis could dig out of the bowels of his mind, however. The satire was just not subtle enough to sustain for the entire story amidst all the vapidity and violence. I got it, but it didn't go anywhere. That's why it was tough on this reader. It was similiar to what happened to some of the Saturday Night Live sketches that were regretfully made as feature length movies (It's Pat, Stuart Smalley Saves His Family, etc ad nauseam). We get it right away that Pat is androgynistic, that Stuart is too obsessed with self help, that Patrick is a GQ stereotype covering a serial killer created by our consumer society. But after a short while it's beating a dead horse.

Now if you want a good example of how subtext as satire can work see "They Live" for its attack on the Reagan administration era.

I Still Hate American Psycho

Post 7


Fair enough. smiley - smiley

I agree, it's not subtle in the slightest, nor did Ellis really need to spend a whole novel making the points he did (and, as I sort-of-said above, it certainly doesn't rank amongst the great works of satire, not by a long way).

Incidentally, I only replied like that because I've seen whole forums filled with people who read the book and didn't get it at all ("Ellis is a racist bastard!" etc.). I've even seen people arguing that the violence is real, based upon the fact that the novel is called American Psycho, and therefore Bateman must be a killer. smiley - huh

However, although I certainly don't love the book - and don't think I'll read it again - I did feel that a few elements of the novel were quite witty and effective, and that the end of the novel was very fitting.

Oh, and I assume from your name that you're a William Gibson fan. smiley - smiley

I Still Hate American Psycho

Post 8

Baron Grim

I think we've found common ground. smiley - biggrin

And no, I didn't hate *All* of the book. And since you mentioned it I do somewhat recall the urinal cake section being somewhat amusing (I read this book when the furor in the press was still going on. I disagreed with those detractors since they were the type of people who want to control what you or I can or cannot read. I hated the book because I felt it su**ed, not because it was bad for society... but I digress in my digression... It was a long time ago and memory fades.)

Oh and yea, I was/am a Gibson fan. I picked the monicker years ago and I still like the sound of it.smiley - cool

I Still Hate American Psycho

Post 9


I thought it was hilarious and gross but I'm a perverse sod. Don't u think it's funny that a serial killer (whether real or imaginary) likes Phil Collins? That's exactly the kind of warped mind that buys Genesis recrods. smiley - devil

I Still Hate American Psycho

Post 10

Baron Grim

It might have been funnier if the serial killer *was* Phil Collins. Maybe not, too obvious as well.smiley - winkeye

I Still Hate American Psycho

Post 11


Killing all the people then scalping them to make a wig to wear, like Bufalo Bill in silence of the Lambs. smiley - devil

Key: Complain about this post

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more