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American Psycho [Paperback]

Bret Easton Ellis
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (379 customer reviews)

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Book Description

26 April 1991
Patrick Bateman is Harvard-educated and intelligent. He works by day on Wall Street, earning a fortune to complement the one he was born with. His nights he spends in ways we cannot begin to fathom - doing impermissible things to women. He is living his own "American Dream".

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (26 April 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330319922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330319928
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (379 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 82,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bret Easton Ellis is the author of Less Than Zero, The Rules of Attraction, American Psycho, The Informers, Glamorama, and Lunar Park. His new novel, Imperial Bedrooms, will be published in 2010. His work has been translated into twenty-seven languages. He lives in Los Angeles.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Brett Easton Ellis established a reputation as the enfant terrible of American fiction in the 1980s with his controversial novel Less than Zero, but with the publication of American Psycho he became established as one of the most notorious and reviled novelists currently writing. American Psycho deserves its controversy. The novel opens with a sign scrawled above a New York subway station: "Abandon hope all ye who enter". So begins a hellish descent into the world of Patrick Bateman, the novel's protagonist. Bateman is a handsome 26-year-old Wall Street yuppie, who spends his days listening to Whitney Houston and working out which exclusive restaurant to eat in and what clothes to wear in a dizzying parody of 1980s consumerism run mad.

However, Bateman also has a darker side; he is a psychopathic serial killer, with a penchant for torturing and sexually abusing young women before killing them in the most gruesome and explicit fashion. The novel contains little actual plot, and consists of extended descriptions of exclusive restaurants, designer clothes, TV shows and the minutiae of Bateman's vacuous world, relieved only by clinically described scenes of torture and mutilation which are not for the faint-hearted. Bateman makes little attempt to justify his actions, merely claiming that "this is the way the world--my world--moves". As a satire on the bankrupt, money-driven world of the 1980s, American Psycho is a successful, if rather heavy-handed piece of fiction, whose controversy seems only set to increase. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


A seminal book. --Fay Weldon

Serious, clever and shatteringly effective. --The Sunday Times --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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First Sentence
ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE is scrawled in blood red lettering on the side of the Chemical Bank near the corner of Eleventh and First and is in print large enough to be seen from the backseat of the cab as it lurches forward in the traffic leaving Wall Street and just as Timothy Price notices the words a bus pulls up, the advertisement for Les Miserables on its side blocking his view, but Price who is with Pierce & Pierce and twenty-six doesn't seem to care because he tells the driver he will give him five dollars to turn up the radio, "Be My Baby" on WYNN, and the driver, black, not American, does so. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Easton-Ellis' first person description of the development of a psychopath is nothing short of mind blowing and this fact alone makes American Psycho a great novel. Following the anti-hero Patrick Bateman through about a year of his life and aided by flashbacks to past events the reader is drawn ever more into the mindset of a killer and his normalisation and disassociation from the acts that he is committing. At the beginning of the book (where violence is only hinted at briefly), it is very easy to laugh at Bateman, his shallow life, appalling friends and fiancé and his assumption that happiness and wealth are one and the same thing. As the story develops one can almost feel pity for someone who is so clearly trapped in a life not of his choosing but which he is unwilling to leave for all the wrong reasons.

Bateman's increasingly violent behaviour and periods of psychosis characterise the middle of the book, but the author still finds room to add his own brand of dark humour to the situations he puts his star into. In the final section of the book we see Bateman develop into a full blown psychopathic monster, completely out of control and unable to repress the primal urges that are overcoming him.

That Easton-Ellis manages to achieve this whilst taking a sideways sneer at eighties yuppie culture AND providing an allegorical interpretation of what it means to be alive in modern day America is what makes this novel remarkable and ultimately an essential read.

My only complaint is that the novel is too long. Did the Huey Lewis and The News chapter really add anything to the plot, particularly after lengthy discussions on Genesis and Whitney Houston?
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel of two frighteningly different halves 12 July 2001
By A Customer
On the one hand this book is, and let me make this clear straight away, one of the most repulsive books I have ever read. The further you get throught the book, the more horrific the murders become. It would be very easy to dismiss this as an empty, attention-grabbing ploy.
But that would be unfair: this book works brilliantly as a satire on the 1980s attitudes. Pages are filled with excrutiating detail of what Bateman is wearing; his daily routine is scrutinised in minute detail; his friends are empty-headed, vacuous fools, who listen to nothing. Bateman himself is simply taking the consumerist dream to its extremes: the idea that he can take life. Filled with black humour, and some truly surreal situations (Bateman asks for a "decapitated" coffee; no-one appears to notice), this is fantastic. The sex and violence are unpleasant, but in the context of the novel they make sense.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American Satire 7 Dec 2002
This book, I loved. Its pure satire straight from the intellectually messed up mind of Bateman, a pathological time bomb exploding in the book to help Ellis show the world the downside of yuppie America. The events range from comparing business cards to violence at the most extreme level.
Ellis uses Bateman very well in the book. His self analytical diagonstic style at times shock the reader. Late in the book, the story moves from 1st person to 3rd person for a couple of pages, exhibiting an unexpeted style of sleek beutiful prose found no where else in the psychoanalytical frame of Bateman.
The characters all show flaws of upper class yuppie society. Evelyne obsessed with marriage and wealth, Courtney constantly on anti-depressents, making her a character the complete opposite of Bateman.
The humour is not in the violence, but in the explicit manner in which Bateman tells people numerously he is psychotic and wants to kill them and they are obvlivious to it.
To experience a completley different novel, read this. An explosive satire on American capitalist corruption featuring a genuine psychotic murderer will have your heart racing.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hm. 31 Mar 2005
By Brrnrrd
I read this book before I read any reviews. I saw it on the shelf in Waterstones, opened it up and began reading from the restaurant scene, where our hero is drawing someone's intestines and says to his girlfriend that it's a 'watermelon'. So I bought it. It was incredibly long, tedious at times and was a real grind to read - but I suspected it would get better and it did. That is, if gory description is your thing. It is mine, only because I've never come across an author who has written it so beautifully. There was none of the 'PC' subtlety that exists in so many books, and I think that worked well for this novel. When I talked about aspects of it with a friend she said that the reason there are so many dull and repetitive scenes is because Ellis is trying to wear us down; my mind literally began to throb about half way through the book, and I think that is how the main character is feeling too - Numb, bored, out of touch, frustrated. If you consider the descriptions in the book and how you are feeling while reading it, you get a pretty accurate idea of what Ellis is trying to convey. I think a lot of people have missed this because they expect a book to be exciting, to have their hearts racing all the time -- which is a fair expectation. But that's why American Psycho is so clever; It's heavy handed, and so is the world. It's raw and obscene, and so is the world. But most people say 'That's life' to the world and rant and rave about a book.
I don't agree with those who say it is childish or adolescent. Far from it. I think there is a psuedo etiquette flying around, which says anything that describes gore is automatically tasteless, when that isn't the case. If the context is considered as well as the very much apparent point of the novel, then the gore fits very neatly in to place. I was totally repulsed by it, and I'm glad - because it means I'm reading a book powerful enough to have a physical effect. Not a lot of writers can do that.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Shocker
After watching the film, I didn't realise there was a book! And what a book it is, I'm not finished yet. I believe I have the 'rat torture' still to come. Read more
Published 15 days ago by MissTeilelbouim
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your average read
The first few pages seem really disjointed - which sets the ongoing theme for a main character's life. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Mr. K. D. James
5.0 out of 5 stars Ah! read this novel.
Patrick Batemen is just an distinctively insane character...that you find yourself siding with. He's easy to love when your a woman. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Miss Unique
1.0 out of 5 stars unjustified violence.
didn't get it, sorry. haven't seen the film, can't imagine what you could show. it was under "crime & mystery" ??? it should have been under "fantasy"
Published 22 days ago by John H.
4.0 out of 5 stars An iconic story of 80s narcissism
The chances are you will have seen the film already and are wondering whether it's worth reading the book as well, to which the answer is a resounding yes. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Discerning Reader/Viewer
3.0 out of 5 stars Read for its popularity...
Think I read this for the hype, the writing style puts me off, needs more gore and less lists! Some bits gripping, others seem pointless to the plot!
Published 1 month ago by Rachel
1.0 out of 5 stars Great concept, disappointing delivery
The premise for the book is fantastic, but I found even by skipping the occasional page I couldn't maintain the suspense, and shock of the intermittent violence, through the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by RKS
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a mad mad world
Oh my... BEE has issues! Seriously, there were times I actually felt embarrassed reading this on the tube - the really graphic sex/violent scenes are... well, just that: graphic! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Colin Sheehan
5.0 out of 5 stars The most important book you'll ever read.
Vapid and essentially plotless. The characters are vacuous and unlikable and the narrative bland; the satire is hilarious and poignant. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jade Coles
3.0 out of 5 stars Be prepared
A dark satire on 1980's Yuppie Culture. Meet Patrick Bateman. The book doesn't tell us much about him in regards of background and what he actually does, but that he is a Yuppie,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by The Pegster
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