Saturday, 13 April 2013

Book #28 American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

American Psycho

Length of Time In Possession : 2 weeks

I'm going to say right from the off with this review that I fucking hated this book, and thought it was total and utter gash, which in the two year history of the blog is the rudest and most damning sentence I have ever described a book with. I don't think I've ever sworn before so my apologies to any of those who may be offended, I'll edit it out if I get complaints.

It was my book clubs book of the month so I had to read it, one friend said I'd love it, several told me I'd hate it.

I think immediately people would assume that if someone doesn't like American Psycho it's because they're averse to violence, I'm not particularly, I've read rape scenes before I've read violent murder scenes, I've watched Tarantino and Korean cinema, I'm not bothered by shocking violence. I've read worse than what is in American Psycho, violence wise, and that violence has often been more eloquently expressed.

No, the reason American Psycho is so offensive, is its breathtaking banality. Various quotes about how it is seminal adorn its covers. Seminal? Seminally shit.

Right from the off lead character Patrick Bateman is concerned with aesthetics and money, the best restaurants, the best business card; the fact that in terms of character development he has no further depth, and is a hollow shell of a man, a damning indictment of grubby 80s capitalist parasites is the point. There is nothing more to him. Yet because of the way in which this is illustrated, it becomes : a) a one note point that just repeats itself ad nauseum across 300 odd pages and b) utterly tedious as a reading experience, tedious to the nth degree.

Here is a quote from page 27

"Vidal Sassoon shampoo is especially good at getting rid of the coating of dried perspiration, salts, oils, airborne pollutants and dirt that can weigh down hair and flatten it to the scalp which can make you look older. The conditioner is also good."  

Nothing at all "Psycho" happens before Page 127. Sure there are hints : he takes his clothes to the laundry, they're covered in blood. He makes an internal remark about the violent death of his girlfriends neighbour. He decides not to kill someone who has connections....but mostly what you can expect from the first 127 pages is having to read shit like that quote above.

Bateman only notices the designers people wear, and is only interested in possessions, whilst this is the point of 80s greed culture, it is unbelievably tiresome in its vapidity.

When the violence actually occurs, it actually comes as respite from the relentlessness of this, it's clever, to a degree, it can be appreciated, on an intellectual level what Ellis is trying to show with Bateman, and the question marks he raises around the distinctions between reality and delusion later on, but there is zero character development. The idea is that these billionaire wankers are sub-human so there is no character but hey, even Donald Trump has opinions! Bateman has none, he's just a talking Vogue Magazine spread on designers and beauty products.

After the initial point is made, all further reiterations of it are superfluous and annoying. The problem is not the concept, but the execution, because even a novel making an acerbic social comment has to at least not be entirely turgid so as to give the reader a positive reading experience. It doesn't really matter how dark a book is if it's well written, if it engages, but this book never engages you as a reader. It's a bit like flicking through a clothing catalogue into which some violent pornographic images have been inserted at odd intervals.

Avoid this book like the plague.

Verdict : 0/10

Destination : Charity Shop

No comments:

Post a Comment