American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis (Book Review)

After many recommendations and appearing on multiple lists of ‘books you should read’, I decided to give American Psycho a try:

Patrick Bateman is a young, wealthy American living in New York city. Constantly buying the newest and best things, and eating at the newest and best restaurants, from the outside he has a good life: influential friends, a beautiful girlfriend etc.

Hiding behind this mask however, is an insatiable urge to murder and maim other humans.

The writing style of the book will likely put many off from the start – sporadic interjections of seemingly unrelated topics, whole chapters on the character’s morning routine, other chapters being essentially essays on certain bands discography – but it all seems so intentional too. The narration fits the character perfectly in his attention to detail which is seemingly insignifficant.  Nearly every chapter begins with a description of what everyone was wearing (Armani suits, Hugo Boss ties) and what the topic was on the morning chat show.

Nevertheless, it is eery how familiar certain topics and conversations are when meeting with friends, and feels almost accusatory in our obsession with the superficial whilst ignoring more important matters.

The murders are described incredibly graphically, and for this reason I’d be hesitant to recommend the book to everyone. I’ve had friends who stopped reading at the first murder…

The book is very clever in it’s style and unique in narrative. The ending is ambiguous and leaves the reader guessing too.

The book itself seems to focus on the topic of these masks we wear in our culture to cover up what we actually are – we appear happy, successful, strong, complete; underneath is something quite different.

We all have a tendency to wear masks in our settings, but with enough time and pressure, the mask begins to slip, revealing what was hidden beneath.

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