Sunday, December 28, 2008


Forget the half-assed 2000 film adaptation starring Christian "I talk like Nathan Explosion when I turn into Batman" Bale, the proof is in the PAPER this time. I remember the controversy when this book hit the streets in 1991. I was only 12, but I heard it on TV and read it in the magazines. It wasn't just the far Right, and it wasn't undeserved. 'American Psycho' was (as I found out when I finally read it 7 years later) dark, brutal, and sickeningly perverse, along with being one of the most brilliant pieces of American satire ever written. Bret Easton Ellis' twisted yuppie protagonist Patrick Bateman delivers the story in a stream-of-consciousness monologue, describing in equal detail his friend's Armani suit, the newest Huey Lewis album, or the brutal torture-killing he performed the night before. His vapid detachment reveals the most about his character, and his story plays out like a cross between an advertisement and an insane horror movie. If you have the stomach for it, I highly recommend checking this one out. hopefully you haven't ruined it by watching that damned movie already.

Here's my favorite passage from the book, one of Bateman's blackest, bleakest, and most revealing moments:

"... where there was nature and earth, life and water, I saw a desert landscape that was unending, resembling some sort of crater, so devoid of reason and light and spirit that the mind could not grasp it on any sort of conscious level and if you came close the mind would reel backward, unable to take it in. It was a vision so clear and real and vital to me that in its purity it was almost abstract. This was what I could understand, this was how I lived my life, what I constructed my movement around, how I dealt with the tangible. This was the geography around which my reality revolved: it did not occur to me, ever, that people were good or that a man was capable of change or that the world could be a better place through one's taking pleasure in a feeling or a look or a gesture, of receiving another person's love or kindness. Nothing was affirmative, the term "generosity of spirit" applied to nothing, was a cliche, was some kind of bad joke. Sex is mathematics. Individuality no longer an issue. What does intelligence signify? Define reason. Desire - meaningless. Intellect is not a cure. Justice is dead. Fear, recrimination, innocence, sympathy, guilt, waste, failure, grief, were things, emotions, that no one really felt anymore. Reflection is useless, the world is senseless. Evil is its only permanence. God is not alive. Love cannot be trusted. Surface, surface, surface was all that anyone found meaning in... this was civilization as I saw it, colossal and jagged..."


Above: Twisted sicko Bret Easton Ellis, God bless him.


Aesop said...

I thought the movie was a respectful treatment of the book. The book is rule.

Shelby Cobras said...

I haven't actually seen it since it came out, but my hopes were so high that I don't think any movie could have met them. The book is definitely rule. One of my favorites.

Anonymous said...

There are tons of NYC suits sniffing coke off their hand right now thinking "what would the guy in American Psycho do right now?" and then they go do it.