American Psycho is an extremely graphic and violent book by Bret Easton Ellis about the 26-year-old handsome, educated, intelligent but misogynistic psychopath called Norman Bates who works on Wall Street interspersed with some banal content presented as postmodern social commentary. Having been subject to censorship due to transgressive content, there is a plethora of analysis about American Psycho out there. The common theme seems to be readers either hate it for its blatant sexism or love it because it defies the norm.
Personally I found the book boring given I was reading for pleasure. I may have viewed it differently had I been studying it. To be honest the protagonist’s emotionally-detached first person perspective of the world started to get fairly repetitive and dull. His friends are repulsive in their hubris and obsession with materialism which makes it difficult to like anyone in this book. Naturally with characters as repugnant as this, I was unable form any emotional attachment while the verbose and constant descriptions of brand names and insight into how Bates stimulated himself made me bored very quickly. Bret Easton Ellis may have been making a satire of consumerism but I cannot help wondering if he was trying to be shocking for the sake of it.
I know experiencing or creating a product does not make anyone an advocate of it but the problem was the lack of empathy in how torture scenes are described created prose that wasn’t particularly riveting but was stomach-churning and it happens multiple times. It could be the combination and the equal treatment of the banal and the brutal what makes American Psycho so shocking to most readers but while that may make it an interesting topic for academic dissertations, it failed to engage me which is what I desire from books.