Bret Easton Ellis
Ever heard of transgressive fiction? Me, neither. According to wikipedia (hey, it’s convenient), transgressive fiction “focuses on characters who feel confined by the norms and expectations of society and who break free of those confines in unusual and/or illicit ways. Because they are rebelling against the basic norms of society, protagonists of transgressional fiction may seem mentally ill, anti-social, or nihilistic. The genre deals extensively with taboo subject matters such as drugs, sex, violence, incest, pedophilia, and crime.”
American Psycho is transgressive fiction.
It is also the most disturbing book I have ever read. The rape/torture/murder scenes are horrifically brutal, and the narrator is so disaffected that it becomes even more chilling. I kid you not…there is NO emotion in this book. Oh wait…there’s rage.
And to make it even worse, you never even know if anything in the book really happens.
Patrick Bateman is filthy rich, ridiculously handsome (according to himself) and possessed of a most excellent tan, very interested in proper attire and home decor (using only the best brands, of course), obsessed with working out (and returning his videotapes on time), and he works on Wall Street. Doing what, I never quite figured out. It seemed like he spent more time lunching and dinner-ing than he did working.
He is a yuppie of the highest order.
He’s also got a bit of a problem with murdering people. Brutally. And just when you think he’s done something so horrific it can’t get any worse, it does. As I mentioned before, whether the murders are just fantasies or actually happened is never disclosed. I tend to subscribe to the fantasy theory myself, since his method of body disposal is so ridiculous and blatant, it seems there’s no way he could escape getting caught. However, I also think that some of the stuff actually happened. Maybe. While I have a hard time calling a book that is so brutal genius, that is part of its genius. It leaves you wondering. For days. Weeks, even. When all you want to do is forget the whole experience ever happened!
And after reading a few too many interviews with the author, I’m even more unsettled. He calls all of his books semi-autobiographical. He says the genesis of American Psycho was in his own New York experiences, a time when he was too caught up in materialism and felt increasingly alienated. He talks about his experiences with coke and watching women have sex (and all these things are key elements in the book). He claims he lies in interviews. He claims he never lies in interviews. He’s practically as disturbing as his damn book!
So after reading both Red Dragon and American Psycho for this year’s Dueling Monsters, I am declaring Patrick the worst monster. Admittedly, Hannibal only has a few scenes in Red Dragon, so it might not seem like a fair battle. But Hannibal’s reputation precedes him, so you could say he has an unfair advantage. What Patrick does to women (even if it is only in his mind) makes him the most disturbing, atrocious monster I have ever had the misfortune to read about. He’s also not that nice to men, but the torturing of women is beyond awful. Not only is he worse than Hannibal, he’s worse than any of the other monsters we’ve ever pitted against each other in the four years we’ve been doing Dueling Monsters.
Also, as much as it kills me to say this, I think Bret Easton Ellis has more talent as a writer. Not that I plan on reading any more of his books. One was more than enough.
How are you doing with the Dueling Monsters reading? Mr. Linky will be up on October 17th over at The Estella Society, so you can link up to your reviews then.
This is also one of my R.I.P. reads.