April 3rd, 2011:
For a long time, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis has been on the top of my 'to-read' list. I got my hands on it a few months ago, and finally got around to reading it recently. I'm not really sure what I was expecting from it. I knew it was supposed to be horrifying, and I've heard people say that they've had to stop reading it because they were so disgusted at what the main character was doing to his victims. I thought I could handle it, that it couldn't possibly be so bad.
To be completely honest, it was an amazing book. It definitely lives up to its reputation of being horrifying and disgusting. Even someone like me, who has read so much horror and watched so many bloody movies, had to stop reading at times because the amount of detail in which the things Patrick Bateman does to his victims made me feel sick at times.
It is also a completely absurd story. There is no reason that he does any of the things he does, except for that he wants to. Some of Bateman's victims are random, people that he doesn't even know – these mostly consist of prostitutes and homeless people on the street. Others are his friends, who are really more like acquaintances, because his group of 'friends' really can't tell the difference between one another. This causes some confusion, and at the end of the novel, I wasn't really sure if the main character had actually killed anyone at all, and was just completely insane, and inside his own head. But I think what really happened was that he did kill everyone he described killing, and the reason for the confusion is because of the anonymity in society. The man he confesses to killing is seen in London multiple times by several people, but it is not him – it is someone else from the same high-class society who looks the same and acts the same but is not in fact the same person.
Through the horror of the book, it also had me laughing SO many times. The way he describes his emotions and experiences is just so ridiculous. Almost every chapter, usually at the end of the first paragraph, the narrator describes what the topic of the Patty Winter show that morning was. There are also several chapters devoted to musical artists, each of their albums and descriptions of every song that they've done.
After I finished the book, I immediately watched the movie, just to see the comparison between the two. Even though it is pretty spot on with the actual events that happen, it really doesn't even compare. There is no way to depict in such detail the horror and absurdity in the movie as can be done in the book. Christian did do a pretty good job as Patrick Bateman though, and the part that made me laugh the most was when he had the 2 prostitutes over, and instead of paying attention to them during sex, he was flexing his own muscles and admiring himself in the mirror. One thing that annoyed me was that they changed the names of a couple of the characters – Tim Price became Tim Bryce, and Paul Owen was Paul Allen. I'm sure there was a reason for it, but since I don't know what it was, it annoyed me.
Anyway, yes – the book was definitely better than the movie, which is no surprise. It also surprised me how horrifying it actually was, even after all the warnings about it, which is impressive to me. Even though I hated a lot of it, just because of the way Bateman and his friends acted, which I guess was the whole point, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it still a week later. Definitely a good commentary on modern society.