My lovely friend Ben recommended I read American Psycho while he was visiting Sydney from Chicago last summer; I bought a copy soon after he left in January but it wasn’t until the approach to Hallowe’en that I decided to read it. Little did I know how apt my timing would be; and that I would finish Ellis’s most famous novel a matter of hours before the election results were announced. As people the world over reacted with shock and despair to America’s new president, I wondered what central protagonist Patrick Bateman – who has a warped fascination with Trump – would have made of the day’s events, twenty-five years after the publication of the book.
While American Psycho certainly isn’t the kind of book I would have normally picked up, reading my way through the BBC Top 100 taught me the importance and benefit of reading beyond your normal genre, and knowing little about what lay ahead, I was intrigued and compelled to read on from the get go.
A narcissist of the most potent form, Patrick Bateman is young and successful, with a superior self-worth and a compulsion to kill. And despite the goriness growing greater as the novel progressed, I found the novel almost impossible to put down.
Disturbing, dark, and – in parts – downright nauseating, American Psycho is an insightful interpretation of the life of a serial killer that serves as a critique of both culture and masculinity, where other people’s thoughts and feelings are second to your own desires.