by Bret Easton Ellis
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis was a really hard book for me to finish…. Written at the height of the ‘yuppie explosion’ in urban centers – in this case, New York City – the novel is written in the voice of the main character, Patrick Bateman, an investment banker during the late 1980s. Bateman is in his late twenties, living the life: dinners on the town, drinks (and drugs) at the clubs, and explicit and care-free sex as the AIDS epidemic is in full swing. Bateman is pre-occupied with his ‘hard body/tight abs’, eating at the best restaurants, wearing the latest and greatest designer suits, and having a Harvard pedigree. Everything about him shouts “white-privileged, ignorant slut”. He doesn’t care about women – they are an instrument for him to abuse, and he does. You quickly realize that he’s a sociopath. Bateman first kills a colleague, then taxi drivers, street people, and even a boy at the zoo, but he gets the most pleasure from bringing women to his home (usually in duos), seducing them, drugging them, forcing them to have sex with each other (and then with him) and then mutilating them. Yes, Easton Ellis goes into MUCH detail on both the sex and the way in which Bateman mutilates his prey. Bateman is a sick man: by day, a successful banker (though he never really works), and at night preoccupied with what was on the latest morning talk show, 1980s pop music releases, and the art of killing. As the book progresses, Bateman gets more delusional and the sex and killing becomes more torturous (cannibalism, necrophilia, torture, with his pet rat involved!) He eventually tries to turn himself into a college buddy, with a phone message explaining the killings, but he is rebuffed by the friend saying he has no courage to do such a thing. And the book ends with where it all began, a bunch of investment bankers out for drinks planning the next social gathering with a sign over the bar stating: "This is not an exit." A social commentary on American consumerism, how people are objects, and if you have the means (money and smarts), anything can be ‘gotten away with’. I found this to be a really disturbing book…it was hard to understand the worth in the story, but it did communicate that we’d better be careful of what our society is creating.