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American Psycho (1991)

by Bret Easton Ellis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
13,436280419 (3.71)348
  1. 153
    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. 30
    In the Miso Soup by Ryū Murakami (TheRavenking)
  4. 10
    Killer on the Road by James Ellroy (yokai)
  5. 10
    The Maimed by Hermann Ungar (askthedust)
  6. 00
    People Live Still in Cashtown Corners by Tony Burgess (ShelfMonkey)
  7. 00
    Crash by J. G. Ballard (amanda4242)
  8. 00
    Like Me: A Novel by Hayley Phelan (readingtangent)
  9. 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 348 mentions

English (253)  French (10)  Dutch (3)  Danish (3)  German (2)  Swedish (2)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Catalan (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (278)
Showing 1-5 of 253 (next | show all)
Extremely funny outside of the gore.
Main character loves Donald Trump and gets mad when others make fun of Cheetos man. Hilarious. ( )
  Mcdede | Jul 19, 2023 |
I have an overwhelming urge to trap rats after reading this book.
  fleshed | Jul 16, 2023 |
Meh. I didn't really care for it although I did get through the whole audiobook so...
The book really only has one trick; a banal, matter-of-fact almost clinical tone throughout even while it describes scenes of porn and extreme gore. The only thing that really caught my attention was when the POV shifted when the titular American Psycho Patrick Bateman disassociated and the reality of his whole murderous rampage comes into question. Other than that, the endless brand name product lists and boring conversations that Patrick is also not paying attention to got to be somewhat tedious.
The animal cruelty also got to me, it's something I frankly just steer clear of in my media choices these days. Overall, I don't really see the draw of this work. It didn't strike me as particularly original other than in its bland prose which I understand is a stylistic choice but it simply did not engage me. Its content is composed of dull shallow conversations focused on products and gossip between the characters, pornographic scenes, and splatterpunk-esque shock gore scenes. Again, I know this was intended by the author for the most part but this book was not my cup o' blood.
I can't really recommend this unless you have a morbid curiosity for a popular work. However, I think the movie is leagues better than the book in this case. ( )
  Ranjr | Jul 13, 2023 |
just finished for the 2nd time this year. brilliant, witty, disturbing, incisive. definitely not for everyone though. ( )
  veewren | Jul 12, 2023 |
Patrick Bateman, it must be noted, had an unusual obsession with Donald Trump. Indeed, Trump is mentioned at least a dozen times throughout Bret Easton Ellis’s now-iconic 1991 novel “American Psycho”. I’m just throwing that fact out because it seems significant.

Indeed, Ellis’s novel—-controversial when it was first published—-still seems significant now, in 2023, for reasons that are not dissimilar to the reasons cited 33 years ago.

I did not read the book 33 years ago. I was graduating high school when the book came out. My summer of ’91 was occupied with packing for college and living with that nervous excitement that precedes a major life-change: freshman year of college. I didn’t have time to read it, even if I wanted to, which I didn’t. In fact, the book was never really on my radar.

Oh, I had heard about it, and when I arrived on campus and met new friends, many of whom were far more literate than myself, I overheard the conversations about how misogynistic and racist and homophobic the book was, and how vile Ellis must be. I would never read such a book, and anyone who did (and, God forbid, liked it) must be the worst kind of disgusting monster, the type who probably voted for George H.W. Bush and liked war and date rape and celebrated awful holidays like Columbus Day, which was nothing more than a celebration of imperialism and genocide. (This is how I talked in college. Not because I actually necessarily believed this shit, but mostly because I was trying to get cute college girls to play with my penis, and most of them talked like this, too.)

It would be three decades before I picked up “American Psycho” and actually read it. And, weirdly, liked it.

Nobody told me that it was hilarious. The fact that it is a very funny, very dark satirical comedy seemed to have been skipped over or ignored in the many conversations I had had about the book.

Also, I was old enough and mature enough as a reader to now distinguish the fact that the virulent misogyny/racism/homophobia evident in the book was not coming from Ellis but was, in fact, a symptom of the protagonist’s psychosis. Ellis did such a good job of getting in the head of a deplorable, soulless, homicidal monster that, I now recognize, many readers came away thinking that Ellis was the monster. People also often forget that Frankenstein was the name of the monster’s creator and not the monster itself.

Being more well-read than I was as freshman in college, I saw the blatant allusions to Jane Austen, and how Ellis was painting a satirical picture of the vapid and shallow consumer culture of the “Me-First” rich white upper class. I saw in Patrick Bateman the parody of Oliver Stone’s 1987 film “Wall Street”, in which greed and self-interest is played up as a virtue in Michael Douglas’s character, Gordon Gekko. I understood where the obsession that Bateman had with serial killers like Ed Gein and Ted Bundy came from, as serial killers were kind of all the rage in the ‘90s.

I even saw the parallels between “American Psycho” and Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”, in which Bateman—-clearly Ahab—-suffers from an obsessive-compulsive quest to find his own white whale: a conscience or any kind of emotion that would make him feel human in some way. New York City and Wall Street become, for Bateman, the rough seas that he must sail. His vicious and inhuman murders become a kind of religious rite he uses to summon something—-anything—-lurking beneath his superficial existence. I even understood the three chapters in which Bateman extolls the discographies of Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, and Huey Lewis and the News: three of the most popular and, in many ways, vapidly commercial artists of the ‘80s. They are the epitome of shallowness, which describes Bateman to a ’t’.

And, of course, the constant references to Trump (which, since the book was written 20 years before Trump had any vocal designs of being President, is simply bizarrely prescient), a man who, even at that time, was a human imprimatur of everything sleazy and gauche regarding the wealthy, are voluminously apropos.

The book still shocks. For today’s post-Trump post-Covid audience, that’s definitely a good thing. If the book didn’t shock or disgust readers, that would be too horrible to contemplate.

I can understand why this book is much loved and much hated. It’s not a book that would engender mild feelings of indifference or “meh” in anyone who reads it. One either loves it or hates it.

I’m on the “love” side, and it’s because I understand what Ellis was trying to say. He was expressing a disgust and hatred for a warped sense of reality and dark side of humanity that he saw hiding in plain sight and that could only grow into something more dangerous—-and, in fact, did under Trump’s presidency. For this reason—-and all of the others previously cited—-“American Psycho” is, in my opinion, a vital American literary classic. ( )
  scottrhee1972 | Jun 29, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 253 (next | show all)
What’s rarely said in all the furor over this novel is that it’s a satire, a hilarious, repulsive, boring, seductive, deadpan satire of what we now call--as if it were something in the past--the Age of Reagan.
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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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
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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.

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And a thing fell apart
Nobody paid much attention

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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?"
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