Friday, 8 August 2014

Review #11 - American Psycho

Title: American Psycho
Author: Bret Easton Ellis
Published: 1991
Publisher: Vintage Books USA

A brief synopsis; (Via Goodreads)
In American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis imaginatively explores the incomprehensible depths of madness and captures the insanity of violence in our time or any other. Patrick Bateman moves among the young and trendy in 1980s Manhattan. Young, handsome, and well educated, Bateman earns his fortune on Wall Street by day while spending his nights in ways we cannot begin to fathom. Expressing his true self through torture and murder, Bateman prefigures an apocalyptic horror that no society could bear to confront.

Now, this book was recommended to me by my three soul mates, whom I would gladly read whatever the hell they recommended for me. I was so glad that this was one of them.

Warning: This review (and book) is not for the faint hearted. Proceed with caution.

When I first started reading, it took a good 5 or 6 pages to realise that it was in first person, and not third. That's because it is not initially revealed that there is a narrator, as he does nothing but describe his companions movements in detail.

To be honest, I don't really know where to start with this.

I suppose the bad, maybe? Actually, no- the funny:

The protagonist is constantly changing names. Now, I wasn't alive when this is set, and nor am I from America, or even rich. So Bateman's lifestyle is pretty much the complete opposite to mine. To every person, he is known as a different name. It was confusing, yes, but it was also curious- did he have a personality disorder? Was he playing practical jokes? Or are rich people honestly that superfluous that they seriously don't have a clue who they're talking to?

Who knows? Certainly not me.

One thing I do know, however, is that it is impossible to read this book without putting it down at least once.

I had to put it down so many times in order to take a breather- when I say there's gore in this book, it is a massive understatement. He is a complete psychopath- and it doesn't even stop with humans; animals are mutilated violently as well.

My English teacher and I were discussing these scenes, and meine gott, the faces we were making. So gross! I can't even think about it right now, just, ugh. I'm going to shudder.

And it's not just the violence and the killings- there's the sex, too. It's brutal. So, so brutal.

And there's drug usage, too- however this is not as heavy as the two above. There's also one small gay mishap, which is honestly hilarious, except Bateman's reaction is not- he's more like Batemean.

But back onto the book. I liked it, I honestly did. Except often times, it was very tedious. I mean, there is an entire chapter on Huey Lewis and the News. And another chapter on Whitney Houston. And a third on Genesis. They were just so absurd! They were literally the entire artist's history up to the period it's set in (1980s) including how many sales they have had. Talk about obsessed.

Some chapters were also excruciatingly long, that it was almost painful. Usually, those chapters were the most boring- where Bateman got on with his 'normal' life- dinners with Evelyn and Price, meeting with Paul Owen, yada yada.

It was so disconcerting to see the way that Bateman managed to pull off his sanity- it was very clear that that is something he possesses very little of.

At one point in the book, the narration switches from first person to third. It is very sudden, and unexpected, but no unwelcome. It allows the broader picture of that specific scene to be read and explored; I found it very effective. It goes back to first person afterwards.

Also, there is a distinct lack of plot. It makes the book very unpredictable- but then again, Bateman is a very unpredictable narrator. It makes guessing the end of the book utterly impossible. Seriously; try it. Try and guess how this book ends. You will not be right.

I suppose, if it wasn't for those long chapters, I'd be giving this book 5 stars. Yes, I know it was gross, but, well, I loved it. It was so passionately explored, and so very, very real. I wouldn't recommend this book for someone who cannot handle gore and violence. I have 18 piercings and have been in and out of hospitals my entire life, so I'm no stranger to seeing the body in all the ways the body should not be. Yet this book still made me queasy at times.

Star Rating: 4/5

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