American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Well that was…something I can’t erase from my brain. After reading Bloch’s Psycho, I was surprised that I felt fine, with minimal anxiety. There was more thinking and appreciation involved than anything else. It convinced me that I’d be okay reading Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. Never assume things, kids. Of course, these novels were written in different times, and although Psycho was likely considered “edgy” at the time it was published, the way it was written was quite conservative in comparison with American Psycho, which was published thirty-two years later.

I have two primary takeaways from American Psycho, the first being a vast amount of discomfort. Ellis went above and beyond in that department. I knew that, since we were in the POV of Patrick Bateman (our psycho at hand) the entire time, there would be specific, gory details involved. However, the psychosis of Bateman appears to go far past the desire to murder people. I will not be able to even think about rats without feeling sick for a while. This made the POV the greatest strength of this novel, aside from the theme/point Ellis was making. The accuracy with which Ellis portrayed the perspective of a psychotic serial killer was incredible. The details Bateman takes in about his surroundings (quite literally everyone’s outfit) and the rapid, stream-of-consciousness thoughts he has when losing control are so precise. The amount of description Bateman uses in pretty much any situation is wearing, but necessary. I always appreciate a novel when I feel the amount of work that went into it, and American Psycho is no exception.

The second takeaway was that Bret Easton Ellis wrote this novel for a purpose. It’s a satire of the wealthy class as well as a serious comment on the detrimental things that can happen when people choose to look the other way or are too self-involved to see the truth of what is happening. Bateman repeatedly refers to his murderous habits in casual conversation, yet the company he keeps chooses to either take it as a joke or ignore it completely. This also made me think that Ellis was commenting on how the wealthy class is more likely to get away with murder because of the money, status, and other resources at their disposal.

Ellis also creates in Patrick Bateman what I think all of us fear, whether consciously or unconsciously, and that’s the serial killers that never get caught. It makes us think about the people in our very presence, whether it’s an acquaintance at a party or the person behind you in a coffee shop. Who’s to say they don’t have human body parts in their freezer? But that awareness also falls into the point Ellis makes of acting as a bystander and not recognizing the twisted, terrible things that happen in our world. Unfortunately, horror is not as fictitious as we’d like to believe.

I’m sure other people who are reading this novel in the present day noticed this as well, but I couldn’t help but think about how Bateman’s idol was Donald Trump. Although it was funny, it was also a little scary (cue the GIF of laughter that turns into crying). And this novel was published back in 1991, before Trump was even considering running for President (as far as we know). I’m not turning this post into anything political, but let’s just say that it gave me some weird vibes. Has any media source talking about Trump referenced this novel before? I’d be surprised if they haven’t.

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3 thoughts on “American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

  1. I noticed the Trump thing too, I found it so funny that Trump was basically his idol. I haven’t heard of anyone referencing the book in comments on DJT, but it is quite telling, isn’t it?
    Yes, Ellis did a scary job at getting inside the head of a serial killer and also at holding a mirror up to an entire generation.

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  2. I was also amazed at the amount of work that went into this book. Unless he was already into fashion, he had to research all of that. He also had to learn how to get into a psycho’s head. I’m not a psychiatrist, so I can’t say how accurate it is, but I loved being brought along on Patrick Bateman’s ride.

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  3. It is quite odd that he has the whole Trump as an idol thing. You are so right about the satire. I loved that Bateman was literally yelling at people he was going to kill them and they just ignored it. In a way I kind of pictured in my mind that while that generations obliviousness was lost in the materialistic side of soceity and the who’s who, that our generation may be oblivious to someone we know being a killer if our head’s are glued to our phones. But you’re right, there always the unknown that we may know a serial killer or that they are out there biding their time.

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