Will reviewing Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho kill this blog before it begins? Am I just opening myself up to a tirade of abuse from a portion of people who have never read this book, but have still made up their mind that this novel is the work of the devil?
Perhaps, but I will give it a go anyhow
Meet Patrick Bateman, a good-looking, fashion guru, racist, misogynistic, paranoid, self-centered, egotistical, snobbish New York yuppie. Patrick works in the Mergers & acquisitions department of the Wall Street firm of Pierce and Pierce, and he spends his days and nights in a late-1980s consumerist void, checking out ‘hardbodies’ and running up debts on his American Express platinum card and worrying about late fees for videotapes he rented… Oh, and did I mention he is also a sadistic serial killer, rapist, torturer of small animals and the narrator of American Psycho; one of the most controversial, memorable, and fantastically written satires in modern literature.
American Psycho the Furor and the Film
Published in 1991, American Psycho was Bret Easton Ellis’ third published novel, and was met by such a furor that Ellis’ publisher at the time Simon and Schuster refused to publish it. Luckily though it was later picked up and published by Vintage books, who probably realised that the controversy surrounding the novel would result in sales.
Ellis himself received numerous death threats, and bags of hate mail from people, who like Gloria Steinem opposed the novel’s graphic depiction of violence against women. Ironically, Gloria Steinem is also the step-mother of actor Christian Bale who plays Patrick Bateman in the film version of the book.
In Germany, the book was deemed “harmful to minors,” and its sales and marketing were severely restricted from 1995 to 2000. In Australia, the book is sold shrink-wrapped and is classified “R18” under national censorship legislation. In my homeland of Canada the novel renewed the controversy when serial killer/rapist Paul Bernardo was reported to not only own a copy of the novel, but also that he read it as his “bible”.
All of this in my opinion is a bit silly to mention, because by today’s standards American Psycho is no more violent than your typical episode of Dexter, and the sex is probably no worse than in the ‘mummy-porn’ Fifty Shades series. I mention it however so that you don’t rush out buying a copy for your Nan or your impressionable teen.
In 2000, a successful film version of the book was brought to the screen, directed by Mary Harron and starring Christian Bale, who’s step-mother, Gloria Steinem, as previously mentioned, once campaigned to have the book banned.
Like the book, the film has a strong ‘cult’ following, and is a fairly decent adaptation of the novel, though like most films it isn’t as enjoyable as the book. Also as a word of warning if you watch it before reading the novel, I am sure you will visualise Patrick Bateman as Christian Bale.
A fantastically written, dark comedic novel about murder, consumerism, yuppies, and the New York social elite in the 1980s, with a character so memorable he will haunt your dreams for years to come.
- First published 1991 by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, New York
- 399 pp
- ISBN 978-1-4472-2074-9
- Tweeting Crow: Learning Life Lessons from Bret Easton Ellis’s Twitter (perpetualadolescent.wordpress.com)
- Easton Ellis Is Writing A New Novel (huffingtonpost.com)
- American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (fictionfanblog.wordpress.com)