American Psycho

American Psycho

4.2 358
by Bret Easton Ellis
     
 

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Now a major motion picture from Lion's Gate Films starring Christian Bale (Metroland), Chloe Sevigny (The Last Days of Disco), Jared Leto (My So Called Life), and Reese Witherspoon (Cruel Intentions), and directed by Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol).

In American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis imaginatively explores the

Overview

Now a major motion picture from Lion's Gate Films starring Christian Bale (Metroland), Chloe Sevigny (The Last Days of Disco), Jared Leto (My So Called Life), and Reese Witherspoon (Cruel Intentions), and directed by Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol).

In American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis imaginatively explores the incomprehensible depths of madness and captures the insanity of violence in our time or any other. Patrick Bateman moves among the young and trendy in 1980s Manhattan. Young, handsome, and well educated, Bateman earns his fortune on Wall Street by day while spending his nights in ways we cannot begin to fathom. Expressing his true self through torture and murder, Bateman prefigures an apocalyptic horror that no society could bear to confront.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Bret Easton Ellis is a very, very good writer [and] American Psycho is a beautifully controlled, careful, important novel…. The novelist’s function is to keep a running tag on the progress of culture; and he’s done it brilliantly…. A seminal book.” —Fay Weldon, The Washington Post
 
“A masterful satire and a ferocious, hilarious, ambitious, inspiring piece of writing, which has large elements of Jane Austen at her vitriolic best. An important book.” —Katherine Dunn
 
“A great novel. What Emerson said about genius, that it’s the return of one’s rejected thoughts with an alienated majesty, holds true for American Psycho…. There is a fever to the life of this book that is, in my reading, unknown in American literature.” —Michael Tolkin
 
“The first novel to come along in years that takes on deep and Dostoyevskian themes…. [Ellis] is showing older authors where the hands come to on the clock.” —Norman Mailer, Vanity Fair
Library Journal
This review is based on the galley issued by Ellis's original publisher, Simon & Schuster, before it cancelled the book. The book is now going through the editing process at Vintage. There may be some changes in the final version. The indignant attacks on Ellis's third novel will make it difficult for most readers to judge it objectively. Although the book contains horrifying scenes, they must be read in the context of the book as a whole; the horror does not lie in the novel itself, but in the society it reflects. In the first third of the book, Pat Bateman, a 26-year-old who works on Wall Street, describes his designer lifestyle in excruciating detail. This is a world in which the elegance of a business card evokes more emotional response than the murder of a child. Then suddenly, for no apparent reason, Bateman calmly and deliberately blinds and stabs a homeless man. From here, the body count builds, as he kills a male acquaintance and sadistically tortures and murders two prostitutes, an old girlfriend, and a child he passes in the zoo. The recital of the brutalization is made even more horrible by the first-person narrator's delivery: flat, matter-of-fact, as impersonal as a car parts catalog. The author has carefully constructed the work so that the reader has no way to understand this killer's motivations, making it even more frightening. If these acts cannot be explained, there is no hope of protection from such random, senseless crimes. This book is not pleasure reading, but neither is it pornography. It is a serious novel that comments on a society that has become inured to suffering.
— Nora Rawlinson

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679735779
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/28/1991
Series:
Vintage Contemporaries Series
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
14,950
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

What People are saying about this

Katherine Dunn
A masterful satire and a ferocious, hilarious, ambitions, inspiring piece of writing, which has large elements of Jane Austen at her vitriolic best. An important book.
Norman Mailer
The first novel to come along in years that takes on deep and Dostoyevskian themes . . . [Ellis] is showing older authors where the hands have come to on the clock . . . He has forced us to look at intolerable material, and so few novelists try for that anymore.
Fay Weldon
Bret Easton Ellis is a very, very good writer [and] American Psycho is a beautifully controlled, careful, important novel. . . The novelist's function is to keep a running tag on the progress of the culture; and he's done it brilliantly. . . A seminal book.

Meet the Author

Bret Easton Ellis is the author of five previous novels including, Less Than Zero, The Rules of Attraction, American Psycho, Glamorama, and Lunar Park, and a collection of stories, The Informers. His works have been translated into twenty-seven languages. Less Than Zero, The Rules of Attraction, American Psycho, and The Informers have all been made into films. He divides his time between Los Angeles and New York City.

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American Psycho 4.2 out of 5 based on 2 ratings. 358 reviews.
ChesterfieldWatts More than 1 year ago
"American Psycho" is not only a great critique of the 80's yuppie culture, but it is a scathing criticism of a nation's moral decay. The book is very well written, and it has a style that creates a world easily accessible to the reader. The book creates a dissonance from real life and the actual plot that leaves the reader questioning if our narrator, dear Patrick, is a reliable source or nothing more than a raving mad-man. The wonder of Ellis's writing is that, while asking this question, the overwhelming fact is that it doesn't really matter. While Bateman, the main character, is a psychopathic killer, it is easy to empathize with him and understand his frustrations. The writing style is unique and makes it easy to get into Bateman's mindset. I usually am not a detail-oriented reader, and I often prefer to have my own imagination work than the author's descriptions, but long sections devoted to clothes and other such details really are a pleasure to read in this book, mostly because they help the reader see the world as Bateman does. A unique read to be certain, but wildly entertaining.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To each his own... but personally I find the conplaints about the over abundance of details, especially regarding the clothing brands, to be an absolute joke. Dismissing these details as mundane is dismissing tge entire message of the book. Theyre yuppies... every thing was scrutinized down to the last detail. Where you ate, what you ordered, who you were with, what you wore, who cut your hair... these details were everything that mattered. As for the violence, its a sattire and the book is halarious. The point is the extreme of being such a ridiculous yuppy that your more worried about reservations than your compulsion to kill and also hating everyone but helplessly obsessing over having everyone love you...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this novel to be a fantastic look into the mind of somebody who is completely empty and derranged. You can tell from the start that Bateman has no sense of reality or emotion. He blends in perfectly with his environment because all his fellow yuppies are empty and devoid of reality themselves and the sick part is that Bateman is the only one who sees everything for how it really is... who knew all you had to do was be a psychopath? I reccomend this to anybody who can understand that this could easily be a real situation. If you're a feminist or a religous nut, I wouldn't reccomend it because you probably have no grasp on reality and won't be able to appreciate it anyway.. 5 stars
Stumpyboner More than 1 year ago
This book is awful. I read it due to a friend's recommendation. I didn't realize at the time that he was a hip counter-culture kind of guy (the kind that tell you that the things you like are terrible, and that terrible things are good). American Psycho has no plot at all. The book begins with an intriguing literary method of hooking the reader. Bret E. Ellis introduces us to the neuroses of the Antagonist, Patrick; this is done by way of first-person introspection into Patrick's inner thoughts. This is fantastic, hence the one star that I did give the book. After that, there is no plot progression at all. There is no dichotomy to exploit between characters, no antagonist, and even Patrick lacks any dynamic character development. There is no plot; that is not to say that the plot is poor; there is no plot at all. This book is just a perpetual repetition of the (at first) intriguing introspection into Patrick's psyche, and his resultant outbursts of rage. I find the repetition insulting. If this book was a novella, then it may have been brilliant; Ellis' one narrative hook is unable to carry a reader who enjoys a dynamic journey complete with plot, conflict, and character development.
SoapBoxinMyMind More than 1 year ago
American Psycho is satirical look at the upper crust of New York's socialites. It is also a psychological thriller about the life of a yuppie Harvard grad named Patrick Bateman who is a homicidal maniac. Bateman narrates his day to day life over the course of a couple of years. He tells of every mundane detail including what brand shirt, pants, suits, shoes, etc, everyone, including himself, is wearing. He describes his murders with no emotion, just as he does everything else. Bateman and his "friends" spend much of their time trying to get reservations at the best restaurants and clubs in town. They run in circles where identity isn't as important as appearance and who you know, and people are often mistaken for others. Because of this constant mistaken identity, it is hard to tell if Bateman is truly a homicidal killer or if he is just suffering from delusional psychotic daydreams. I found this book to be excruciatingly boring for the vast majority of it. The repeated themes in this book were; video returns, the Patty Winters Show, Manolo Blahniks, bums, hard bodies and reservations. I understand that this was a satire about how superficial New York socialites are, however, there are only so many pages that should be dedicated to painfully detailed descriptions of clothing and discussions of "where to eat". The first two thirds of the book were uncreative with regard to the murder and sex scenes. It isn't until the last third of the book that things got interesting. The main character finally let loose his homicidal rage in very graphic and colorful detail that made me cringe. On a scale of 1-4, I give this book a 1. If the last third of the book hadn't gotten better, I would not have rated this book at all. With that said though, please read this book for yourself and let me know what you think.
KDLTX More than 1 year ago
Satire is defined as "a literary composition in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule". "American Psycho" is a satire savagely attacking our modern consumer culture and a graphic psychological thriller. Patrick Bateman is an investment banker on Wall Street. The book begins with Bateman and his friends partying, drinking, dining and leading superficial lives. Then you are thrust into Bateman's psychotic hell as he begins a killing frenzy. The acts are so heinous that you wonder if they are the imaginings of a deranged mind or real events. Even more perplexing is the fact that when Bateman confesses his crimes, people think he is telling a joke. Is society really so apathetic and self-involved? The plot of the book is really a stream of consciousness from Batema's point of view. Be prepared for gruesome violence - the murder scenes are horrific. I would say this book is a fascinating read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Quite Frankly, I thought this book sucked. But, that could be because I do not usually read this kind of material. I recommend this to anyone who likes fiction with a hint of reality.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this because I saw the movie blurbs, and was terribly disappointed. It was full of gratuitous, graphic violence and had an unsatisfying ending. I will save you the trouble of reading this book: 'Describe -- in detail -- what everyone is wearing, describe -- in detail -- what everyone is eating, kill some people in a horrible way. The end.'
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author just ran on and on about the culture, fades of the time and other bored things that the characters obese over. If you saw the movie and you remember the part where he was talking about his morning routine, well then that is what you get for the whole book. If you like to read nothing but boring deals like that then read the book, if not than watch the movie.
RottenPotato More than 1 year ago
Many people don't realize what this book is really about.  It is not just cold-blooded murders committed by a self-obsessed socialite.  It delves into the extremes that lay in each of us.  Desire, selfishness, and lust.  Although halfway through the book I realized that there was no definitive story line, that didn't matter.  Bret Easton Ellis describes the day to day events of Patrick Bateman in a fresh way that is anything but dry.  I can certainly say that this is one of the most interesting books I have ever read.
Fashionista-X More than 1 year ago
Was curious after watching the movie by the same name. The book is very, very descriptive in everything from the clothes people are wearing to the sexual preferences of Patrick Bateman. This story grabs at the very obvious self-serving, self-satisfying individuals of that time. Despite sometime too graphic description I found the book worth reading because it depicts an extreme character trying to cope with his unhealthy nature while being accepted as normal by his peers. Very interesting in my opinion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read it as a commentary on modern infatuation with consumerism, celebrity and our separation from any real meaning.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book reading it for my extra reading portion in college English. Very easy to break down and gain your own explanation and add your own twist
SFTurtleMind More than 1 year ago
Brilliant book, but not for the those readers who superficially read the book as a stream of torture/sex pornography. The book transcends the 80s and is as relevant now as then. Being an ex-Manhattanite, the attitudes, the obsessive-compulsive attachment to the persona, the vacuous conversations, the inability to recognize anyone (think of all of the misnamed characters in the book), the recitation of behaviors is relentless. Captures succinctly, in a surreal, manner, a social segment of the  modern urban culture.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing novel that makes you face the dark sinister sick violent places we have in our hearts mind and soul and that were not as innocent as we would like to admit to ourselves and others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Disturbing is probably the best word for this book. I don't know of any other book that can portray the mind of a deranged murder as well. It focuses on the yuppies of the 80's, with the main character being among this class. Although the book is written with these people in mind, it does not feel dated. It can drag on a little at times, as the overarching narrative isn't all that solid. This isn't necessarily a bad thing about this book, however, as it lets you pick it up any time without having to spend too much time thinking about what came before.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not for the lighthearted. A difficult read but is the perfect snapshot into the mind of a psychopath. There are moments where you feel absolute disgust for Patrick but are led to thinking there is a possibilty of hope for sympathy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I get the point of the book. I understand why it was written in the manner it was. I understand why Bateman describes his world in such a hyper detailed way. Believe me, I get it. Still, there is no reason for the book to linger on over 400 pages. What started out as darkly humorous and shocking just gets exhaustingly tedious after a while.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I recently started reading this book and after the second chapter it's been boring me to death. I feel like I've wasted a good amount of time reading this trash and stopped as soon as I reached the chapter entitled Genesis. I have always found myself able to read through anything but this really was painful. To some it may seem that I am not fully entitled to give this a review since I didn't finish the book, but I really gave it a chance and after looking over some of the other reviewers thought, I can see I am not the only one that felt this way. I think everybody should give it a try, but just when you think that the mundane descriptions of professional attire, high class maintenance and upscale restaurant dining is about to end, it isn't.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished it and its an inforgettable story for sure. It was too long but the detail of the clothing and such didnt bother me because it digging you into his madness. The horror part of this book is extreme gore so if you are weak its not for you. Amazingly horrific story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the movie so I had to read the book. I was not dissapointed, though is wasn't as violent and as explicit as i thought it was gonna be and at moment I even found it somewhat comical. It was indeed a good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Along with that comes the crazy and the boring. This book at times gets pretty gruesome! It was like a car wreck you had to keep reading. There were a few chapters i down right skipped because it was straight up just details about music....that didnt matter. Overall good book.
EclecticReaderWR More than 1 year ago
Among the hundreds of published photos of the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon, there is a perfect photographic metaphor for AMERICAN PYSCHO, itself a 400-page metaphor for disassociation in American society. It portrays a group of Pat Bateman-types, and one a clone, so close is he to how you come to imagine Bateman, staring out from The Bailey Pub and Brasserie at marching protestors. The suited diners appear incredulous. Which is the point of Easton's book about the endgame of self-absorption. Another way to look at AMERICAN PYSCHO is as SEINFELD, "The Show About Nothing," without the self-deprecating humor and with buckets of blood. Except at the conclusion of SEINFELD, the gang finds themselves in jail. Many have written about the contents of the book, so there's not much to add on that score. However, its structure is quite good, beginning with Bateman and his crowd in action partying, dining, dressing, and generally leading their superficial lives, with hints of Pat's other, dark life. Then, suddenly, you plunge into Bateman's subterranean hell as he begins killing in a frenzy of utter viciousness, which you might read in any number of ways: today, perhaps from the viewpoint of the OWS protesters, Wall Street mauling what they call the 99 percent. Two motifs in the book were intriguing. First was the repeated appearance of LES MISERABLES posters, playbills, etc, often surfacing as garbage. The second was Pat's obsession with the Patty Winters Show. In LES MIZ, the best of the human spirit triumphs over economic and governmental oppression. In contrast, no one and nothing in any way, shape, or form is ennobling in Pat Bateman's set; nor can they experience the emotional depth of the musical's characters. As for the Patty Winters Show, a mishmash of every pointless and humanly indifferent talk show you care to toss in the grinder, it seems to mirror Bateman's, as well as his associates', disconnection and insensitivity to what passes for most people as real life. Finally, those seeking other fiction about serial killers with strong psychological bents (and less blood), you will be well served with Jim Thompson's THE KILLER INSIDE ME, John Fowles's THE COLLECTOR, or my I, KILLER.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In reviewing a few of the remarks by national reviewers, I was surprised to see how they refused to see AmerPsy as a satire, seemingly unaware of the genre, but rather blamed the author for having twisted perspectives. Clearly Ellis gives us an exaggerated world and is spelling out a time period when society thought it could cure a few horrible ills with but a quip: Just Say NO. The portrayal of American Businessmen Elites is biting and agrees completely with, and is not a reflection of Ellis' personal state, what Noami Wolff has said about the male psyche of the time - the 80's was a greedy psycho-eat-psycho world - and how it does seem to resounate now post-Enron. Ellis has deliberately constructed a Hell on earth and warns us in the first line and reminds us in the last: This is no Exit (very Satre) - The materialistic preoccupation and loss of actual identity of the interchangeable characters leads one to suspect how in some senses we are all part of this creepy culture; his characters virtually speak nothing but GQ and Esquire advice columns verbatem. The only issue I had was that as some have hinted - it was too long. I think he could have written it in half the number of pages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago