American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

American PsychoThe blackest of black comedies…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

I started this book with some trepidation given that I knew it contains a lot of extremely graphic sex and violence. What I hadn’t expected was to find the book so very funny.

The blackest black comedy I have ever read, the author lays bare the shallow and self-obsessed world of ’80s yuppie culture and does so superbly. The obsessions with brand clothing, with pop icons such as Genesis and Whitney Houston, with nouvelle and fusion cuisine and most of all with conspicuous spending – all combined to remind me of the awfulness of the laddish greed culture so prevalent at that time. Throughout the book the author contrasts the drink and drug-fuelled excesses of these successful city boys (and girls) with the poverty that could be seen at every street corner.

Christian Bale as Patrick in the film
Christian Bale as Patrick in the film

The violence is indeed graphic and gets progressively more extreme as the book goes on. However, given the theme of excess in all things that runs through the book, I felt it stayed in context. In fact, it eventually became so outrageous that, for me, it passed from being shocking to being, in a strange way, part of the humour of the book. I don’t know quite how the author made me like and feel sorry for the monstrous ‘psycho’ Patrick – but he did.

I first wrote this review in October 2011 and when re-reading it prior to posting it here, I found I was again chuckling aloud over a couple of episodes that have stayed sharp in my mind; the gross and completely OTT episode concerning the girl and the rat (where I horrified myself by being more concerned about the rat than the girl!), and the series of phone calls where six or so of the characters try futilely to agree on where to meet for dinner. Given my notorious ability to forget a book within two weeks of reading it, that gives an indication of the impression this one made on me.

Brilliantly written, extremely perceptive, amazingly funny – and most certainly not for the faint-hearted. Highly recommended.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

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