American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Ah. What the hell?

So it wasn’t a book as much as it was an experience. Like going to Mardi Gras. At first it seems fun – and then it’s 4 am and you’re drunk and you can’t find your friends and you’re smushed in a huge hot surging crowd. You’re a little nauseated. You might cry. You just want to go home. How did you get here? Who thought this was a good idea? But everyone does it, right? This is supposed to be FUN.

At first I took the words seriously – and that was a mistake. There’s absolutely no story here. The words don’t mean anything. Their relevance is that Bateman keeps saying them. He’s the book.

So do you want to spend 400 pages inside the head of a narcissistic sociopath? It’s not as exciting as you’d think. All that Bateman thinks about is himself. There are infinite descriptions of jackets, vests, soup, business cards, kiwi, face creams, blouses, veal, wallets, limos, “hardbodies,” ties, Diet Pepsi, sunglasses, tassels, Walkmen, tits, clubs, pajamas, scarves, uppers, hair cuts, shoes, homeless people, shampoos, shiatsu massages, downers, skirts, umbrellas, reading glasses, facials, watches, Evian, grocery stores, stereo systems, taxi rides, liquor drinks, champagne, blondes, earrings, manicures, sushi, bars, pants, cocaine, hair gel, fur coats. Endless. I’m not kidding.

This is stream of consciousness from the worst person alive in 1991. 200 pages was doable. After that it was excruciating. I’m commending Ellis on his commitment. He went to the mat. He took this bitch all the way home. That doesn’t make it any less exhausting or boring – but thumbs up, buddy.

As a prolific reader I’m glad I read it. It’s a thing. I’ve been exposed now. It’s a tool in compare and contrast. It’s knowledge to have. But i would never recommend this book to anyone. It’s a brilliant character study – but when the character is Patrick Bateman the reading is tedious.

I guess I should say there’s murder. Torture. It’s visceral. Disgusting. Sad. The stuff with animals wrung me out. None of that was the focus of the book. Ellis captured the sociopath perfectly. Less energy focused on killing someone than on gym time. This book is a work of genius. (But it’s like going to a museum and seeing some uber famous painting. And you know that it’s “art,” but you’re thinking “man, that thing’s just ugly.” I can say Ellis is brilliant, but that I hate this book).

Oh. And tons of racism. Revolting. Misogyny. Bateman hates everyone. But he’s really in your face with his feelings about other races. It sucked to read.

I think this book has found a spot in my heart among the most loathed. (Look out, Gone Girl, there’s a new sheriff in town). I have a headache from grinding my teeth. My stomach hurts. I can’t imagine ever reading again. I feel lost and tired and a little wrecked. So kudos to Ellis for capturing Bateman so perfectly that I never want to read him again.

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