Well I said that I was going to be reading something different this week and different is definitely what I got!
This week it’s Bret Easton Ellis’ 1991 novel American Psycho. The book revolves around the life of Pat Bateman who works on Wall street but is also a serial killer. He spends most of the book either discussing fashion advice with his co workers, eating at fancy restaurants with many different women, or killing people.
I found it very difficult to read through the killings, especially the killings of the prostitutes he brings home. His overly sadistic and twisted methods made it very hard for me to keep reading. Years of watching violent movies have desensitised me so I can read about people getting killed, but torture is not something I can read about. Smearing someone’s privates in cheese and then setting a rat at them is not something that I can read about. I almost put the book down when he killed a child at the Zoo and I was very ready to stop reading when he was eating his victims. Unfortunately most of the book is made up of killings, so I powered through.
I really didn’t get why there were three whole chapters reviewing Genesis, Whitney Houston and Huey Lewis and the News. I read through half of the Genesis chapter and then skipped through the other two. I really didn’t get their relevance. Maybe it’s gone completely over my head and if you know why they’re here, please let me know!
What I found the most interesting about this book was there being a lot of incidents in the book that point to the fact that Patrick may not have actually done any killing. The first being the way Pat will randomly confess to his homicidal tendencies, blurting out in one dinner that he likes to ‘dissect girls’, yet the people that he is with do not seem to notice. They completely ignore what he’s said and carry on the conversation at normal. I took this to mean that the people he’s with are so self absorbed that they do not even register what Patrick’s saying, but other things made me think otherwise.
The second of these incidents is when he goes to Paul Owen’s apartment to dispose of the bodies and they’re not there. The estate agent denies that a Paul Owen had lived there even though he had killed him, disposed of his body and made it appear as if Paul had gone to London. Also when the Detective questions Bateman about where he was that night, he seems to have an alibi. He was said to be at dinner with some of his friends.
Finally the the last red flag was when Bateman confronts his lawyer Harry Carnes about a message Bateman left on his machine confessing to all his killings. Carnes thinks it’s a joke but when Pat tries to tell him that it’s true Harry, thinking that Pat is someone else, says that Bateman is a ‘bloody ass kisser, such a brown nosing goody goody’ and that he’s too cowardly to have committed any killings. What really drives it home is when Harry says that he had dinner with Paul Owen twice while in London despite Bateman insisting that he killed him.
Maybe Pat didn’t kill Paul Owen and he did actually go to London. Maybe Pat didn’t actually kill anyone. Maybe he was so doped up on all of those drugs he was taking, he imagined it all. There’s certainly evidence that points toward that. Unfortunately for me, whether he did it or not, I can’t scrub my imagination clean with bleach to get rid of the horrible images this book has placed in my mind. Cheers Bret.
I’ve also decided that should there be a film adaptation of the book, I will do a short comparison of the two. I watched the 2000 film directed Mark Harron within an hour of finishing the book. Christian Bale is such a good Patrick Bateman. They could not have cast him any better. Same goes for Evelyn. I imagined her having this high pitched whiny voice and I think Reese Witherspoon portrayed her perfectly. So the casting was good. I am glad that they didn’t make the killings as graphic as they are in the book, I don’t think I would have handled watching it. Overall I thought the transition from book to screen was well done, especially Pat’s confession to his lawyer. Bale absolutely killed that performance (forgive the pun!) and why he didn’t win any awards for it is beyond me. Even though he won ‘Best Leading Actor’ at the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards in 2001. I suppose if you run about naked covered in blood with a chainsaw, you either need to be locked up or have an award of some kind.
Very rarely I read a book I don’t enjoy and this is one of them. I can say 100% that I will not be reading this book again. Ever. While it is very well written, this is definitely not my cup of tea.
I need to read something happy next week. Something magical with a happy ending. So it will be Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!!