It’s the most shocking book I have ever read. EVER! And I still think my mind is a bit sick for being able to actually read it until the end.
American Psycho is a novel by Bret Easton Ellis, published in 1991. The story is told in the first person by Patrick Bateman, a serial killer and Manhattan businessman. The main character of the book is just perfectly built, in such deep detail that it just makes you feel scared all the time you find out something new about him.
Set in Manhattan during the Wall Street boom of the late 1980s, American Psycho follows the life of wealthy young investment banker Patrick Bateman. Bateman, in his late 20s when the story begins, narrates his everyday activities, from his recreational life among the Wall Street elite of New York to his forays into murder by night. Through present tense stream-of-consciousness narrative, Bateman describes his daily life, ranging from a series of Friday nights spent at nightclubs with his colleagues — where they snort cocaine, critique fellow club-goers’ clothing, trade fashion advice, and question one another on proper etiquette — to his loveless engagement to fellow yuppie Evelyn and his contentious relationship with his brother and senile mother. Bateman’s stream of consciousness is occasionally broken up by chapters in which he directly addresses the reader in order to critique the work of 1980s pop music artists. The novel maintains a high level of ambiguity through mistaken identity and contradictions that introduce the possibility that Bateman is an unreliable narrator. Characters are consistently introduced as people other than themselves, and people argue over the identities of others they can see in restaurants or at parties. The question of whether any of the crimes depicted in the novel actually happened or whether they were simply the fantasies of a delusional psychotic is only perpetuated further by the cinematic adaptation.
After killing Paul Owen, one of his colleagues, Bateman appropriates his apartment as a place to host and kill more victims. Bateman’s control over his violent urges deteriorates. His murders become increasingly sadistic and complex, progressing from simple stabbings to drawn-out sequences of torture, rape, mutilation, cannibalism, and necrophilia, and his grasp on sanity begins to slip. He introduces stories about serial killers into casual conversations and on several occasions openly confesses his murderous activities to his coworkers, who never take him seriously, do not hear what he says, or misunderstand him completely—for example, hearing the words “murders and executions” as “mergers and acquisitions.” Bateman begins to experience bizarre hallucinations such as seeing a Cheerio interviewed on a talk show, being stalked by an anthropomorphic park bench, and finding a bone in his Dove Bar. These incidents culminate in a shooting spree during which he kills several random people in the street, resulting in a SWAT team being dispatched in a helicopter. This narrative episode sees the first-person perspective shift to third-person and the subsequent events are, although not for the first time in the novel, described in terms pertaining to cinematic portrayal. Bateman flees on foot and hides in his office, where he phones his attorney, Harold Carnes, and confesses all his crimes to the answering machine.
Later, Bateman revisits Paul Owen’s apartment, where he had earlier killed and mutilated two prostitutes, carrying a surgical mask in anticipation of the decomposing bodies he expects to encounter. He enters the perfectly clean, refurbished apartment, however, filled with strong-smelling flowers meant, perhaps, to conceal a bad odor. The real estate agent, who sees his surgical mask, fools him into stating he was attending the apartment viewing because he saw an “ad in the Times” (when there was no such advertisement). She tells him to leave and never return.
At the end of the story, Bateman confronts Carnes about the message he left on his machine, only to find the attorney amused at what he considers a hilarious joke. Mistaking Bateman for another colleague, Carnes claims that the Patrick Bateman he knows is too much of a coward to have committed such acts. In the dialogue-laden climax, Carnes stands up to a defiant Bateman and tells him his claim of having murdered Owen is impossible, because he had dinner in London with him a few days before, not once but twice.
The book ends as it began, with Bateman and his colleagues at a new club on a Friday night, engaging in banal conversation. The sign seen at the end of the book simply reads “This is not an exit.”
Here’s one of the scenes of the book, maybe just to make you decide if you are strong enough to actually read it :
“…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 book and more exactly, its story is absolutely outrageous. The beginning of the book is mild and doesn’t give any clues of who Bateman actually is. It might give some clues considering his obsessive interest in what people wear and how they are dressed that he might have some mental issues, but it doesn’t get to reveal his real identity until quite late in the book.
It’s a book that makes you look behind you on the streets after you read it, a book that makes you reconsider the people you know. I was reading it and while actually going through the murder scenes, I just suddenly felt scared of being alone in my apartment.