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American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

American Psycho (original 1991; edition 1991)

by Bret Easton Ellis

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11,738246396 (3.71)323
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.… (more)
Title:American Psycho
Authors:Bret Easton Ellis
Info:Vintage (1991), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library

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American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (1991)

  1. 123
    Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (sacredheartofthescen)
    sacredheartofthescen: Both about bored men in American society that found odd ways to fill their time and become what they want to be.
  2. 30
    The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson (gtross)
    gtross: I would be very much surprised if Bret Easton Ellis hadn't been influenced by Jim Thompson's first person narrative of a psychopathic mind.
  3. 10
    The Maimed by Hermann Ungar (askthedust)
  4. 10
    Killer on the Road by James Ellroy (yokai)
  5. 00
    In the Miso Soup by Ryū Murakami (TheRavenking)
  6. 00
    People Live Still in Cashtown Corners by Tony Burgess (ShelfMonkey)
  7. 01
    The Seven Days of Peter Crumb: A Novel (P.S.) by Jonny Glynn (gooneruk)
    gooneruk: Peter Crumb is more intense, shorter, and more schizophrenic, but Bateman is a good cross-Atlantic mirror for him.

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» See also 323 mentions

English (222)  French (10)  Danish (3)  Dutch (3)  Italian (2)  Swedish (2)  German (2)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (246)
Showing 1-5 of 222 (next | show all)
what can I say? I like the dark side. ( )
  Rellwood74 | Feb 18, 2021 |
I don't think I've ever thought to myself "okay, I get it" this many times reading a book before ( )
  skolastic | Feb 2, 2021 |
Cons: It's as uncomfortably outdated as anything else from the time period, if not more so. The book is a little long for as little action as it has. There are too many interchangeable yuppie characters with no personalities to keep them all straight, though I don't doubt that them being interchangeable yuppies with no personalities was the point.

Pros: Bateman is one of the strongest first-person voices I've ever read. Similarly to the movie, breaking up the darkness with long monologues about '80s music is very entertaining and unique. Bateman's neurotic nitpicking made me think of this as a gory Seinfeld. The constant one-sentence descriptions of the same things sprinkled throughout reminded me A LOT of my old days with Palahniuk. ( )
  jasonrkron | Jan 15, 2021 |
An analysis of the chapter, Killing Child at Zoo

As the American society has entered the state of postmodernity, materialism and consumerism has come to play a larger and larger role in all our lives. And the devastating effects of consumerism are immense, as the novel, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, 1991, serves to testify. In the chapter, Killing Child at Zoo, Ellis displays two examples of what consumerism can cause: The monetization of as something as natural and pure as wildlife and the extreme loss of identity that can turn people into serial killers.

Through the setting, Ellis shows us consumerism is even capable of contaminating the most natural of things, wildlife, through the institution of trapping and breeding animals, the zoo. This quote describes well how the consumerism has poisoned the wild creatures in the zoo: “The zoo seems empty, devoid of life. The polar bears look stained and drugged. A crocodile floats morosely in an oily makeshift pond. The puffins stare sadly from their glass cage. Toucans have beaks as sharp as knives.” (p. 2, l. 10) The human inventions, drugs, oil, glass and knives are being forced upon the wildlife. Another quote that even more vividly expresses this point is this: “COINS CAN KILL - IF SWALLOWED, COINS CAN LODGE IN AN ANIMAL’S STOMACH AND CAUSE ULCERS, INFECTIONS AND DEATH.” (p. 2, l. 16) An ingenious metaphor that tells us that on top of indirectly causing great animal suffering and death, the very cornerstone upon which consumerism flourishes, money, also quite literally can kill. Ellis provides us with plenty other examples of the unnaturalness of the zoo too: The surrounding skyscrapers and tall buildings being ever visible from inside the zoo. The fact that fake penguin sounds are being played on speakers, and them later smashing against their glass cage in panic after the murder.

Throughout the entire book a very great emphasis is placed on material possessions, to the point where one’s identity is simply the sum of what one owns. At one point Ellis even spends two full pages listing everything Bateman has in his apartment. Almost every time Bateman meets someone, their attire is comprehensively described, and their body and color carefully evaluated. This obsession with appearance becomes shockingly apparent, when he just after the murder judges the panicking mothers look. A more subtle example of the extreme focus on material objects is this: “The Patty Winters Show this morning was about a boy who fell in love with a box of soap.” (p. 1, l. 10) This boy could be a metaphor for Bateman, who very rarely experiences any interest in his fellow companions, let alone love for them, but shows an intense interest in and affection for his Armani jacket, Interplak tooth polisher and Duntech Sovereign 2001 speakers. And what is the first thing he does after committing a murder? He buys a book and a soap bar just for the sake of buying it. Patrick Bateman has been entirely consumed by consumerism.

He consumes out of fear of falling behind - not living up to the ideal - not fitting into the prestigious bubble of yuppie-culture. “Unable to maintain a credible public persona, I find myself roaming in the zoo […]” (p. 1, l. 12) Here his other side takes over, Bateman’s real identity, the serial killer. Following the stream of endless consumption has not brought him happiness, only a loss of identity, which has led him to create another one. The serial killer’s happiness seems to be directly tied to the amount of suffering he can cause, a sort of reverse hedonistic utilitarianism. Two examples of this: “It’s not the seals I hate - it’s the audience’s enjoyment of them that bothers me.” (p. 2, l. 20) and “Though I am satisfied at first by my actions, I’m suddenly jolted with a mournful despair at how useless, how extraordinarily painless, it is to take a child’s life. […] It’s so much worse (and more pleasurable) taking a life of someone […] whose death will upset far more people whose capacity for grief is limitless than a child’s would, perhaps ruin many more lives than just the meaningless, puny death of this boy.” (p. 3, l. 41)

Through setting, metaphors and character, Bret Easton Ellis, paints a horrid picture of a society of endless consumption, where the natural joys have been contaminated and the individuality and identity lost. Patrick Bateman’s answer to this problem is to simply steal happiness from others, by creating another identity, the serial killer, which is in turn only possible in this society, where everything is taken at face value. ( )
  Alfred2003 | Jan 15, 2021 |
disturbing and yet also really boring.. I feel like I'm missing something as it didn't really live up to expectations and didn't really make a lot of sense to me ( )
  zacchaeus | Dec 26, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 222 (next | show all)
You get the feeling that Mr. Ellis began writing his novel with a single huge emotion of outrage, and that he never in his three years of working on it paused to modulate that emotion or to ask if it was helping to construct an imaginary world. How else could he have written scenes so flat and tedious that the reader wants to scream? Surely not with profit or exploitation in mind. If so, commercialism has never before produced anything so boring.
Where Bonfire owed some part of its success to the reassurance it offered the rich—“You may be silly,” Wolfe was saying in effect, “but, brother, the people down at the bottom are unspeakably worse”—Ellis’s novel inverts the equation. I cannot recall a piece of fiction by an American writer that depicts so odious a ruling class—worse, a young ruling class of Wall Street princelings ready, presumably, by the next century to manage the mighty if surrealistic levers of our economy...

If the extracts of American Psycho are horrendous, therefore, when taken out of context, that is Ellis’s fault. They are, for the most part, simply not written well enough. If one is embarked on a novel that hopes to shake American society to the core, one has to have something new to say about the outer limits of the deranged—one cannot simply keep piling on more and more acts of machicolated butchery.
added by SnootyBaronet | editVanity Fair, Norman Mailer

» Add other authors (45 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ellis, Bret Eastonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Culicchia, GiuseppeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lenders, BaltTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
L'auteur de ce journal et le journal lui-même appartiennent évidemment au domaine de la fiction. Et pourtant, si l'on considère les circonstances sous l'action desquelles s'est formée notre société, il apparaît qu'il peut, qu'il doit exister parmi nous des êtres semblables à l'auteur de ce journal. J'ai voulu montrer au public, en en soulignant quelque peu les traits, un des personnages de l'époque qui vient de s'écouler, un des représentants de la génération qui s'éteint actuellement. Dans ce premier fragment, intitulé Le Sous-Sol, le personnage se présente au lecteur, il expose ses idées et semble vouloir expliquer les causes qui l'ont fait naître dans notre société. Dans le second fragment, il relate certains évènements de son existence.

Fedor Dostoïevski
Le Sous-Sol
Une des grandes erreurs que l'on peut commetre est de croire que les bonnes manières ne sont que l'expression d'une pensée heureuse. Les bonnes manières peuvent être l'expression d'un large éventail d'attitudes. Voici le but essentiel de la civilisation : exprimer de façon élégante et non pas agressive. Une de ces errances est le mouvement naturiste, rousseauiste des années soixante où l'on disait : "Pourquoi ne pas dire tout simplement ce que l'on pense ?" La civilisation ne peut exister sans quelques contraintes. Si nous suivions toutes nos impulsions, nous nous entretuerions.

Miss Manners (Judith Martin)
And a thing fell apart
Nobody paid much attention

Talking Heads
for Bruce Taylor
First words
ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE, is scrawled in blood red lettering on the side of the Chemical Bank near the corner of Eleventh and First and is in print large enough to be seen from the backseat of the cab as it lurches forward in the traffic leaving Wall Street and just as Timothy Price notices the words a bus pulls up, the advertisement for Les Misérables on its side blocking the view, but Price who is with Pierce & Pierce and twenty-six doesn't seem to care because he tells the driver he will give him five dollars to turn up the radio, "Be My Baby" on WYNN, and the driver, black, not American, does so.
And if another round of Bellinis comes within a twenty-foot radius of this table we are going to set the maitre d' on fire. So you know, warn him. - Timothy Price
"Beat the shit out of him," the girl suggests, pointing at me. "Oh honey," I say, shaking my head, "the things I could do to you with a coat hanger."
"Blitzen was a reindeer"
"The only Jewish one," Peterson reminds us.
...McDermott, in a state of total frustration, asked the girls if they knew the names of any of the nine planets. Libby and Caron guessed the moon. Daisy wasn't sure but she actually guessed...Comet. Daisy thought that Comet was a planet. Dumbfounded, McDermott, Taylor and I all assured her that it was.
"Lobster to start with? And for an entrée?"
"What do you want me to order? The Pringle Potato Chip appetizer?"
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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.

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