by Bret Easton Ellis
And as things fell apart
Nobody paid much attention
Patrick Bateman, 26 years old is the main character of this novel. He lives in New York and “works” on Wall Street. Although Patrick goes to his office, he never appears to do any true work there. His most difficult daily decisions center around chosing the right restaurant to dine in. Then he faces the daily struggle of obtaining a reservation, so he can have the privilege to pay for a $300 entree, with the highly respected statement piece – his platinum American Express Card. He faces daily frustrations of having to wait for up to 20 minutes for pieces of equipment at his gym and is constantly struggling to return his movie rentals to the video store in time. Patrick likes cocaine. These are the things Patrick focuses his attention on.
During the first chapter of this book – I did something two or three times that I very, very rarely do when I read. I laughed out loud. Unfortunately, the experience of reading that first 24 pages, was never repeated. This book came to me highly recommended and I am sorry to admit that I was, overall, disappointed. To be fair, due to the high recommendation and after my joyful experience with the first chapter… perhaps I had set my expectations too high.
I found the attention that Patrick Bateman (main character) gave to the clothing that both he, his friends, his girlfriends, almost everyone he came in contact with – became tiring. There were pages of descriptions of the clothing people wore; not only what they wore, but the designers name and material of each item was described with the smallest of details. I understand the author was making a significant point with this. He was showing Patrick’s obsessiveness and the importance he placed on material items; the label was absolutely critical to him. Regardless, I think the author, just like his main character, would “overkill”. With the author it was overkill with endless clothing descriptions and with his main character it was overkill of animals and humans.
I do however, admire the way that Bret Easton Ellis led the reader slowly, chapter by chapter, deeper into the disturbed mind of Patrick. Little by little, events of violence would occur and then gradually they kept worsening. The extreme level of violence that he gradually did arise to, has been criticized heavily. American Psycho was criticized so much in fact, many book sellers now keep it behind the counter, requiring customers to ask for the title by name. Some book sellers refuse to carry this title at all.
The violence is extreme and I do not say that lightly; I do not consider myself to be squeamish. If you are squeamish, I strongly suggest that you skip over the excerpt below – an example of the graphic nature of the violence contained in American Psycho…
…she’s tied to the floor, naked, on her back, both feet, both hands, tied to makeshift posts that are connected to boards which are weighted down with metal. The hands are shot full of nails and her legs are spread as wide as possible. A pillow props her ass up and cheese, Brie, has been smeared across her open cunt, some of it even pushed up into the vaginal cavity.
I try using the power drill on her, forcing it into her mouth, but she’s conscious enough, has strength, to close her teeth, clamping them down, and even though the drill goes through the teeth quickly, it fails to interest me and so I hold her head up, blood dribbling from her mouth, and make her watch the rest of the tape and while she’s looking at the girl on the screen bleed from almost every possible orifice, I’m hoping she realizes that this would have happened to her no matter what. That she would have ended up lying here, on the floor in my apartment, hands nailed to posts, cheese and broken glass pushed up into her cunt, her head cracked and bleeding purple, no matter what other choice she might have made.
I’m trying to ease one of the hollow plastic tubes from the dismantled Habitrail system up into her vagina, forcing the vaginal lips around one end of it, and even with most of it greased with olive oil, it’s not fitting in properly During this, the jukebox plays Frankie Valli singing “The Worst That Could Happen” and I’m grimly lip-syncing to it, while pushing the Habitrail tube up into this bitch’s cunt. I finally have to resort to pouring acid around the outside of the pussy so that the flesh can give way to the greased end of the Habitrail and soon enough it slides in, easily. “I hope this hurts you,” I say.
The rat hurls itself against the glass cage as I move it from the kitchen into the living room. It refused to eat hat was left of the other rat I had bought it to play with last week, that now lies dead, rotting in a corner of the cage. (For the last five days I’ve purposefully starved it.) I set the glass cage down next to the girl and maybe because of the scent of the cheese the rat seems to go insane, first running in circles, mewling, then trying to heave its body, weak with hunger, over the side of the cage. The rat doesn’t need prodding and the bent coat hanger I was going to use remains untouched by my side and with the girl still conscious, the thing moves effortlessly on newfound energy, racing up the tube until half of it body disappears, and then after a minute — its rat body shaking while it feeds — all of it vanishes, except for the tail, and I yank the Habitrail tube out of the girl, trapping the rodent. Soon even the tail disappears. The noises the girl is making are, for the most part, incomprehensible.
The above starts on page 327 of the 399 page book. So while the book starts out pretty mild… you can see the extent of violence it does eventually raise itself to.