Tuesday, 4 October 2011

"American Psycho" (Book Review)

American Psycho (Published 1991)
Author: Bret Easton Ellis
So, I had stayed away from the book of "American Psycho" because I had it recommended to me by a disreputable source who told me "I don't read but this is the sickest fucking book eva!" After some coercion from my lovely and talented girlfriend (she reads these reviews) I decided to read it. I was promised that all the violence and explicit sex works within the context of the rest of the novel.

I have finished "American Psycho" and now, having achieved the added insight of context, I am not exactly sure how well it all works together.

read it all, not skipping any parts - as grizzly, mundane or repetitive as they may be. And for the most part it works well, although I found it lacked subtlety in some part due to the overly analytical narration. The first chapter was completely brilliant and would make an incredible short story because even before he slips in the line about him being an evil psychopath the tension was built expertly. The meticulous narration focusing on the most mundane things really worked to put you on edge. All this tension builds until it is broken by the line, and then, when everyone ignores him, a profound sense of dread creeps in. A dread that either you are insane and he didn't say anything, or that he is a psychopath and he lives in a world where people are too oblivious to see someone clearly in need of mental help.

For the first part of the book the narration is very artificial and focuses on the mundane, on what is happening - there is little to no motivation. But once the explicit material is written everything is relayed in greater detail and his motivation is revealed. For me, this cashed violently and felt tonally inconsistent hen viewed in relation to the first part of the novel.

The first person perspective is also an interesting choice but I don't think it worked for me in some parts. For example when he is saying how his rifle represented order and said what the rifle meant to him, I felt like he was saying what should have been implied. We should know how he feels about his rifle without him telling us. A response to this criticism was that it was just his warped mind saying things; trying to make him self look good. However, if that was the case then why would he tell us about him weeping or canceling reservations he hasn't made or repeatedly that he is loosing his mind.

All in all, the book is very stylistically written, even changing from first to third person perspective for a few paragraphs. For all that has been said about the novel, it is violent and the actions depicted are despicable, not just the sex and violence. The way they treat and talk about women, the way the women act, everything about the novel - the whole world - is sickening. But the book never condones his actions or even tries to.

To end, I found this book very funny. Some parts made me chuckle (maybe that says more about me than the book), but the humour is obviously very dark. I also really liked the running gag of people being confused with each other, due to the lack of distinguishing features, they all look the same.

Don't be put off by the controversy, this is a book well worth a look.
Top 5 Things About "American Psycho"
5. Fashion tips.
4. Business cards.
3. Huey Lewis & The News.
2. Patrick Bateman.
1. Chapter 1.


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