Meh. Sex. Meh. Murder. Meh. Rats. Meh. Calling cards. Meh. Phil Collins.
I’m not a hater, I’m not emotionally invested enough for that, but let’s be honest this novel is about as messy as a corpse after Bateman has finished with it. The writing is, to put it kindly, uneven, the plot pretty repetitious, and the it’s all in the mind angle an entirely ludicrous attempt by the author to appear intellectual [it is, in fact, the serious writer equivalent of and then I woke up.]. But, as American Psycho is a satire, one is able to forgive most of its sins in good conscience. Ellis himself called it a feminist novel, which is clearly nonsense. It is a claim that is, quite transparently, an ill-thought out attempt to defend the work during the height of its controversy. None of the characters, neither male nor female, come out of the book with any credit; the focus is, without question, the vacuous nature of affluent Americans [isn’t all his work?], rather than an exploration of masculine attitudes or behaviour.
Is American Psycho shocking? It depends on your point of reference. Sure, there’s a shit-tonne of nastiness; there’s murder, there’s rape, there’s cannibalism, there’s mini-essays about early Whitney Houston albums, etc. Yet, for me Canetti’s Auto-Da-Fe was a far more shocking read [Mutilated dwarf! Mutilated dwarf!!], as was Dostoevski’s Demons, and Cendrars’ Moravagine is weirder. Easton-Ellis’ novel I merely find preposterous; it is vaudeville, over-the-top, cartoonish; it is, indeed, probably sat on my bookshelf at this very moment laughing sinisterly and twisting its ‘tache. [As a quick way of determining whether you would be upset by this novel, ask yourself this question: do you or did you [everyone has pretty much forgotten about him now] find Eminem shocking? Because American Psycho comes from a similar place as the squeaky-voiced pop-rap cretin].
One major thing in its favour, however, is that it is, in places, very funny, and that is because we all, to some extent, know or have known a Bateman. By this I mean someone who makes toe-curling statements, is essentially unpopular, is desperately uncool, and aching to fit in. In fact, if the novel has a subtext it is that of a misfit who wants to be liked and respected, who [either in reality or fantasy] takes out his frustrations, his feelings of inferiority, on his victims. The murders could be seen, in this context, as a strange form of empowerment.
Rumour has it that Tory-voting twat Phil Collins once petitioned his wife for a divorce by fax. American Psycho or Collins? I know which one I think the greater evil is.