I’m about 30 years late to this particular party—fashionably late, I hope—but I will raise a Bellini to it.
I remember watching the movie as a child—THANKS, MOM 🤣—but never found any particular interest in reading the book as an adult. Ice Nine Kills’ recent release, Hip to Be Scared, ignited intrigue, which—sidenote—may be a completion of a task set by their vocalist with album Every Trick in the Book, in which he wrote about wanting to use the album to spark interest in the classics homaged.
So anyway, thanks, Spencer Charnas, because I finally read American Psycho.
I can’t help but draw obvious parallels between this book and Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, which was published five years later in 1996, for both works satirize materialism, capitalism, beauty, masculinity, but the interesting point is the works respectively approach these topics through main characters on the extreme opposite ends of this spectrum.
In Fight Club, I imagine Patrick Bateman is who the narrator wanted to be—what with both dropping their name brand furniture and whatnot—while Tyler is the other side of Bateman, the violent tendencies.
Now, to focus on the topic at hand. I don’t know what it was like to be 25 or 35 in 1991, and I wish I did because I’d love to decide whether or not we’ve gotten worse as a society. The materialism seems so engrained in us that I venture to say we’ve worsened, but who knows?
Now I see a lot of people denouncing such ideologies, but even within spiritual communities—religious or otherwise—I see noses upturned at those humans who still actively participate with enthusiasm in materialism. Which, by my standards, is an extension of Bateman and his superiority complexes brought on by his impressive bank account. I think as human beings we will always find some ideology to cling to, especially if it can make us feel better than someone else.
Is this a “humans are trash” post? No, but I’d like us all to remember how easily fiction and art can ripple out into reality; what we can learn about an artist and their perception of their own culture through imagined scenarios.
Bateman does bore me. I will say that. But it may have been Ellis’s intention. What we hear from him early in the book is dull conversation and dull routine, but it is necessary to set up his character and his world.
The story is entertaining but only as reader, not as a writer. To clarify, I prefer reading books that make me want to pause and go write myself; books that are so phenomenal they make the creator in me hopeful that if I sit down with a keyboard or a pencil I may produce something so intense or intelligent or important. This book did not do that for me. But it did keep my interest.
Overall, I enjoyed American Psycho. Ellis is a talented writer, this is obvious, and I’d recommend this transgressive dark comedy for sure.