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American Psycho Hardcover – 20 Nov 1998

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New edition edition (20 Nov 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330372483
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330372480
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (423 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 400,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bret Easton Ellis is also the author of Less Than Zero, The Rules of Attraction, American Psycho, The Informers, Glamorama, Lunar Park and Imperial Bedrooms, and 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 the 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

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 July 2001
Format: Paperback
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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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Richard 82 on 12 April 2006
Format: Paperback
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Feb 1999
Format: Paperback
Perhaps the most notorious book of the early 1990s, American Psycho continues Bret Easton Ellis' savage dissection of eighties American society, begun in his earlier novels, 'Less than Zero' and 'The Rules of Attraction'. Although infamous, on account of the much publicised violence and torture, American Psycho does not really deserve its 'sick' reputation. The violence is there, and in places it is very extreme, but really it is no more than a distraction to the real story of what society, or rather wealthy society, has become. The characters within the book are generally shallow, vain, arrogant, thoughtless, bored and generally unlovable; ordinarily reasons enough to distance the reader from any work of fiction, but the author has a knack for turning the most mundane details into a grotesquely fascinating series of snapshots. Chapters containing the reviled scenes of violence are book ended with chapters describing Patrick Bateman's choice of toiletries and his opinions on Huey Lewis and the News. Bret Easton Ellis can be accused of using too much dialogue, of revelling in brand names, of writing essentially plotless books, but the simple fact is, he does it very, very well. It is true to say that American Psycho captures the spirit of the greed obsessed eighties. Depending on how much money you had at the time, this book will either remind you of all the things you loved or despised about that decade. And the moral of the story? Patrick Bateman never did get caught. Just like real life really.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Feb 2001
Format: Paperback
First of all, alot of people are saying that this book has no plot. Well frankly I'm glad! I say this because trying to form a plot in a first person narrative by a man who clearly is dillusional would not work. Things that actually happen and things that don't would just end up confusing you. Another thing are the scenes of violence. The fact that they never happened makes them harmless, they were just the sick fantasies of a man too weak to carry them out. In fact I found them very inventive and ,strangely , extremely funny.
All that said though I do agree that clothes descriptions etc. go on far too long. Yes they are suppossed to show the materialism of the 80's but this point is made early on in the book so why continue?
One of the most genius parts of this book that people seem to overlook are the chapters devoted to Bateman's musical taste. Here we have a suppossedly super-cool business man who finds Huey Lewis and the News excellent! Worse still is his passion for Phil Collins & Genesis and Whitney Housten while he dislikes the hip-hop etc that everyone else listens to.
One thing that confuses me is that ,supposedly, the reason Bateman can get away with all his killings and his vicious tounge is because of the facelessness of the 80's (ie people can't even remember peoples names). However if these events only happened in Bateman's head then the point is lost somewhat.
I watched the film before I read the and they are very similar, of course. However, I found the endings were drastically different. I left my local UCI not really knowing if Bateman DID actually kill all those people or whether it was in his head.
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