Review for American Psycho

I added this to my TBR list because it appeared in the “1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die”. On page 811 it states “American Psycho is, above all, an ugly book. It is an extraordinarily graphic description of obscene violence, which is spliced with reviews of music by Phil Collins and Whitney Houston [and Huey Lewis and the News], and with endless, repetitive descriptions of 1980s main street fashion. The novel’s protagonist, Patrick Bateman, is a psychopath who also works on Wall Street. He conducts business meetings, goes to upmarket restaurants, and commits rape and murder.”

Rape and murder is not an accurate description. He actually has kinky sex and then tortures his female victims, and as usual, the genital of his male victims go unscathed. I’m not a prudish person, but this idea of sexually torturing woman as a plot device is so overdone. It is this idea, I believe, that gets people so upset. But luckily Ellis does not leave it at that, and the book carries an important message.

On the social level, I thought the book was about the impact of capitalism on society. To Bateman, women are like a consumer products. At first he has fun with his victims, but when he gets bored he disposes of them. The more he consumes (literally) the more his state of mind fractures into madness. We’ve all heard of stories of people having enormous debt (hoarders also come to mind too) because of obsessional and compulsive actions. One can see the same thing with Bateman, but on a more destructive level.

The book makes references serial killers Dahmer and Bundy. In the case of Bundy, I saw many similarities between the book’s torture and murder scenes. Of course, Bundy was good looking and charismatic. He also assaulted his victim in secluded locations and revisited the crime scenes. Bundy also groomed and performed sexual acts with the decomposing corpses until putrefaction. Wild animals were also involved and he kept some severed heads in his apartment (thank you Wikipedia). On this level, Ellis appears to lack imagination and borrowed from real murder cases and the Texas Chain Saw Massacre. But I believe there is a lesson to be learned from this.

Despite the one-sided sexual brutality against woman, I think every young person should read it. Just because someone is physically fit, charming, cultured, and wealthy, doesn’t mean they are mental stable or incapable of murder. Young people are trusting and vulnerable, but the disturbing scenes in this book, could remind one to use their instincts and common sense more. One needs to look no further than the Natalee Holloway case to understand why this issue is still relevant today.

Recommended – some lessons in life are not pretty but are important to know.

[Only I would write a review of this book on Friday the 13th!]
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