CR: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Warning: do not read this book if you’re about to eat, have just eaten, or physically cannot stand vivid descriptions of gore and rape and general mutilation. Throughout the day, I usually belong to one of those categories, but I have to grit my teeth and stomach it.

The musical soundtrack’s suitable for any time of day, luckily. So far, I’ve listened to it in the shower, in the car, while reading the actual book, even writing this. It’s addictive and brilliant and basically a musical theatre version of my general music taste, and Matt Smith’s American accent is hypnotic regardless.

American Psycho is the story of Patrick Bateman, a 26 year old Wall Street worker who enjoys fine dining, fine clothes and blood. Lots of it, apparently. He tortures and kills women, men, a toddler, a dog, and then describes their deaths to the reader in excruciating detail. The acts in themselves are stomach churning (think coat hangers, nail guns, acid), but the most intriguing/horrific (depending on how you look at it) aspect is the fact that Bateman apparently doesn’t care, goes so far to seek out victims to satisfy his bloodlust. And this is what is so bloody terrifying.

Actually, correction: the most terrifying bit is the fact that I had to read this for Lit next year. Having had one too many awkward English lessons – watching my English teacher attempt to impersonate Curley’s wife, despite the fact that he’s a stubbled, spectacled bloke, being the most horrific – I really, really, don’t want to be discussing Patrick Bateman’s bedroom antics.

A part of me also thinks that the violence makes the story. Yes, it’s awful and the literary equivalent of shoving one’s hand in a blender, but once I’d read that he did it once, and saw the nature of his ‘crimes’ (I still can’t tell if he’s literally doing it, or if the deeds are part of a morbid fantasy) begin to escalate, I began to be more invested in the story. Every time I read about another girl being picked up by Bateman, my brain screams ‘GET OUT OF THE CAR NOW WOMAN OUT OUT OUT’, and then I get slightly annoyed and depressed about the fact  that an imaginary character didn’t take my advice.

I haven’t read it all yet – 80 pages to go – and I’m surprised that I’m able to continue. I’ve always had a weak stomach, and Bateman’s acts were initially more likely to get me to throw up than food poisoning. No wonder this novel was banned.

Brilliant, but bloody. MOST CERTAINLY NOT RECOMMENDED as a bedroom book for the kiddiwinks.

Have you read American Psycho, listened to the cast recording of the musical, or even, if you’re an especially lucky sod, seen the musical? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

(especially about the musical, because I am SO PISSED that I didn’t get to see it)


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