American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

I picked this book up out of curiousity, because of the controversy surrounding it. And I have never read anything like it, before or since.

I was expecting this to be a product of the splatter generation of the 1980s. But it’s nothing like the comicbookish gore of the movies and stories of that era. This is seriously disturbing reading. The protagonist of the novel is the psychopath himself, and the story is told entirely from his perspective. And some of the things he does to women are unrepeatable.

I will freely admit that disturbing elements sometimes have their place in a story, where the author has something important he wants to say. But there seem to be no redeeming qualities to this book at all. It is just a portrait of a Wall Street yuppie who leads a shallow, empty life … and ends up murdering people because of it.

I have one good point about this book. It is insightful about the real nature of psychopaths: pathetic people who can’t make normal life work for themselves. I remember a quote from some other source which always stuck with me: “Serial killers are people who have spent their life on the fringe of success.” Personally I don’t believe in Anthony Hopkins style serial killers (i.e. Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal), who appear to be special people more in touch with reality than you or I. I think American Psycho is much closer to the truth.

This is one of the very few books I have ever thrown in the bin after reading. Remember, this is coming from someone who was brought up on a diet of horror movies and who finds very little upsetting any more.