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"American Psycho": reviews of critics and readers about the book
"American Psycho": reviews of critics and readers about the book

Reviews about the book "American Psycho" are mixed - it's a fact. Someone really liked the thrash impregnated with peculiar humor, and someone feels disgust when touching the pages of the book. But readers are similar in one thing - both of them have read American Psycho to the end. In an absolutely inconceivable way, a disgusting and completely sick psychopath attracts. Indeed, I want to read the book further in order to understand and answer one question: “Why?”

Perhaps the book itself will not answer this question, but it will give food for thought. Amid the sea of ​​blood and all-consuming cruelty, a silent cry for help is heard. The cry of an inconspicuous person whom others take for someone else, and sometimes they don’t see or hear him at all. In reviews of American Psycho, readers notice that this book was not written at all in order to turn the lastpage, say what the main character is bad. It makes you wonder (albeit in a slightly unusual way) how much a person notices around, except for himself.

A few words about the author

American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis is a contemporary writer from California. Born March 7, 1964 in Los Angeles (USA). His father was a real estate developer and his mother was a housewife.

Shortly after Bret went to college, his parents filed for divorce (1982). It is worth noting that his father had serious problems with alcohol, so Bret was often abused by him. In 1992, Robert Ellis dies, he never reconciled with his son.

Image "American Psycho" reader reviews

But this uneasy relationship between father and son is reflected in the work of Bret. Even creating Patrick Bateman's character, the writer relied on memories of his own father.

The writer does not cover his personal life. Although from time to time he gives information in an interview, and then refutes it. Most likely, in this way he is trying to hide the fact that he is a representative of non-traditional sexual orientation (he confirmed this in 2004).

In 1986, Bret received his bachelor's degree from Bennington College. He wrote his first novel, Less Than Zero (1985), as a term paper and published it while still a student. In 1987, Ellis moved to New York, where he published his second book, The Laws of Attraction. But the biggest and most scandalous famereceived the novel "American Psycho" (Bret Ellis), which saw the world in 1991.


It is worth noting that reviews of "American Psycho" began to appear even before the book was released. Some public organizations expressed open protests. They accused the author of promoting violence and misogyny.

But there were other reviews about "American Psycho". Well-known figures of American literature spoke on the side of Ellis, including Norman Mailer. True, there were more dissatisfied, and Bret had to change the publishing house, because the previous one, succumbing to mass provocations, refused to cooperate with him. With a slight delay, American Psycho hit bookstore shelves.


To understand the inconsistency of the reviews about the book "American Psycho", you should study the plot of the work in detail.

american psycho reviews

So, the novel is narrated by Manhattan resident Patrick Bateman. By the way, he is a self-proclaimed homicidal maniac. The action takes place in Manhattan in the late 80s of the last century, and the book itself describes about two years in the life of the protagonist.

The book "American Psycho" begins with an introduction to the main character. Bateman is 26 years old and comes from a we althy family. Educated at the Exeter Academy and Harvard University, he works on Wall Street at Pierce & Pierce.

You can say that Bateman is the epitome of a typical yuppie (a young we althy man who is passionate aboutprofessional career and material success, leads an active social life), although the hero himself denies this comparison.

The main part of the plot consists of descriptions of Patrick's crimes, although by the end of the work the authenticity of these stories becomes more and more doubtful.


In the book "American Psycho", the hero himself describes how he tries to kill his victims. Among them:

  1. Women, mostly young. He includes former and current girlfriends, girls from the escort service bureau and women of easy virtue.
  2. Competitors in business. For example, the hero kills Paul Owen simply in his apartment.
  3. People from the street. He includes the unemployed, the homeless and the poor. Bateman calls them "genetic junk". Patrick meets an African-American beggar twice in the novel, and at the first meeting he gouges out his eyes.
  4. Representatives of other races, nationalities, ethnic groups.
  5. Ordinary passers-by whom the hero meets on the streets of the city. There was a saxophonist, a boy walking around the Central Zoo, and even a homosexual walking his dog.
  6. Those who came to hand. While trying to escape from the police, during the chase, Bateman killed a taxi driver, a policeman, a janitor and a night watchman.
  7. Animals. Usually they were dogs or rats.
Bret Easton Ellis "American Psycho"

As you can see, there is no system in these murders. Even in reviews of "American Psycho" it is mentioned that the protagonist acts without any plan. He justkills for the love of art (so to speak). The hero commits torture and murder in a variety of ways. Uses firearms, knives, power tools, and even live rats.

Who will the hero not kill?

In American Psycho, Easton Ellis didn't forget to list the characters that Bateman doesn't try to kill. They are Jean's secretary, homosexual Louis Carruthers, and fiancee Evelyn Williams. Patrick does not want to kill them, as they have warm feelings for him. But the hero himself is characterized by greed, envy and hatred, which are generously seasoned with rage and sadistic pleasure.

And other oddities

It would seem that someone who sees an absolutely ordinary thing in a murder is not characterized by something human. However, in Bateman this humanity, albeit weakly, can be traced. He talks about romance and love, about how this is reflected in art and music. He also has a peculiar sense of humor, more than once he ironically spoke about the emptiness and insignificance of his existence.


Throughout American Psycho, Bret Ellis talks about a very distinctive human existence. Bateman is successful in all areas, it would seem that he has nothing to wish for. But behind this success lies a complete emotional burnout. He kills to feel. Envy, rage, hatred, sadism - yes, these are not the emotions that a person should experience all the time, but for the main character these were the only feelings that woke up from time to time.

Image"Americanpsychopath" reviews of critics

It is worth noting that by the end of the novel, Bateman ceases to feel anything even from murders. His palette of feelings has completely exhausted itself. Everything turned into a gray, unremarkable routine. He repeatedly mentions what entails a worthless and empty existence, jokes about it and plunges deeper and deeper into the abyss of cruelty and necrophilia.

In some readers' reviews about "American Psycho" it is written that in this way the author tries to show that people usually see only what they want. Bateman is a successful businessman, comes from a famous family, is successful with women. It's hard not to envy him. But what kind of person he really is, no one knows (and, in fact, he does not try to find out). Therefore, on the one hand, there is a successful businessman Bateman, and on the other, his bloodthirsty alter ego.

Bateman's personality

The protagonist of "American Psycho" Ellis Bret can be considered a werewolf. Outwardly, he is a successful and well-known person in society, smart, respectable, well-mannered. But when no one is watching, he turns into a murderer, a sadist, a cannibal, a necrophile and a sophisticated rapist.

Image"American Psycho" book

Bateman follows the latest fashion trends. Can describe the personal belongings of others to the smallest detail. He often advises his friends on which mineral water to choose, what knot to tie a tie, etc. The hero despises and hates homosexuals, especially Louis Carruthers, who, in order to maintain the imagewoman.

Bateman is very specific about his he alth. He opposes smoking and constantly goes to the gym, but at the same time he abuses drugs and alcohol. The book describes many moments when the hero tried to acquire cocaine, but this did not stop him from reproaching his brother for his addiction to drugs.

Bateman is also a music lover, although he chronically cannot stand rap for racist reasons. It is worth noting that in the book some chapters are devoted to describing the work of Genesis, Huey Lewis and The News and Whitney Houston.

The work of the protagonist is not burdensome: if desired, he can do nothing for weeks. He comes to the office late, has long lunches, listens to music or watches TV all day long. In one of the conversations, he even said that he was working in order to comply with the norms accepted in society.

"American Psycho": critical reviews

Literary critics note that there are too many elements of fantasy in this work, which makes it difficult to determine where real events are described, and where it is Bateman's fiction. The relationship between reality and fiction has not yet been finalized.

The second issue discussed by critics is the relationship between the police and the protagonist. Despite the fact that Bateman did not particularly care about conspiracies, he did not attract the attention of law enforcement. Although the hero was suspected by one investigator, he was never arrested. There is no explanation in the novel why the case was not given a move. Maybe law enforcement agencies are incompetent (or they didn’t care about their job), andmaybe too busy because of the high crime rate in Manhattan. This is up to the reader to decide.


Critics also point out that the book (and later the film) has several leitmotifs. First, the Broadway production of Les Miserables (V. Hugo) is mentioned. Writers have suggested that Wall Street yuppies are the outcasts.

Secondly, the main character constantly rents and returns cassettes. Bateman is interested in sadistic pornography. In the course of the story, he takes the film "Body Double" several times. During the scene where the girl is killed with an electric drill, Bateman satisfies his sexual needs (masturbates). He also uses cassettes as an excuse to explain to the women around him what he will do today or did yesterday. This preposition is used as a euphemism when referring to torture or murder.

american psycho book reviews

Also referenced throughout the story is The Patty Winters Show. It discusses various topics that are usually reflected in the yellow press. The audience of the show reacts in bewilderment and apathy to the stories of the guests. The closer to the end of the book, the more absurd the themes become. Critics say that this may be a sign of the progressive disintegration of the main character's personality.


Also, in reviews of the book "American Psycho" (Ellis Bret), it is said that this novel is a satire on the moral degradation that occurs in 1980s America. Writers (and some readers) believethat all those horrendous fanaticisms and murders are presented to enhance the black humor. After all, all his life, Bateman only cares about how he looks in the eyes of others. If we talk separately about the personality of Bateman, then it, as such, does not exist. He is an ordinary "plastic" person of the 1980s with imposed opinions, ideals and values.

The protagonist's hatred of prostitutes and homosexuals runs through the whole novel. In the 80s of the last century, the topic of AIDS has already become relevant, and these are symbols of the spread of this syndrome. Also, Bateman does not inject drugs, which are also one of the sources of the spread of AIDS.

Is this a masterpiece or not?

As mentioned, reviews of the book are ambivalent. Some people think this novel is excellent. "American Psycho" is the story of one maniac. Why you don't like this book is understandable. There are indeed many scenes of severe violence and episodes of a sexual nature in the novel, which are described in such horrifying detail that it is better for especially impressionable people not to read. Indeed, there is a feeling as if doused with mud. But if you dig deeper, behind all these disgusting episodes lies something more.

The question involuntarily arises, what is this novel about. About everything. Here you can see the conflict of the individual with society, and the problem of tolerance, and the degradation of society in the 1980s, and much more - depending on which side you look at.

Basically, readers have a question, did the hero really commit all those crimes or was it played out by his sickimagination. By the end of the book, just such an impression is created, and for this the author uses not banal clues, but quite interesting literary techniques. For example, the story is told in the first and third person alternately. The author quite appropriately used this approach, so it turned out interesting.

Image"American Psycho" meaning

Also, readers note that the motives of the hero are not entirely clear, while others say that they are so petty that they are not even worth attention. This is the main point of "American Psycho" - no one can condemn or justify the hero. This is the only maniac in the history of mankind, created from paper and ink, which can only be understood by the same psychopath.


In 2000, the film adaptation of the novel took place. The film includes almost all the scenes described in the book, however, they are found in slightly different places where they were in the novel. But that doesn't make the story worse. You can consider the film an interesting remix of the work.

Spelling features

It is worth noting one more feature of this novel, which the author himself speaks about. In an interview, he said that this is one of those books that writes itself. Bret Easton says:

Having finally understood, to my horror, what my hero wants from me, I resisted as best I could, but the novel continued to write itself by force. I had many hours of failures, and, when I woke up, I found the next ten pages scribbled. I came to the conclusion and I don’t know how to put it differently: the novel wanted someone tothen wrote.

Especially interesting is the review of the author about this book. He admitted that he did not like the novel itself, it seemed disgusting to Bret, but Patrick Bateman had already appeared and wanted to taste the glory, facing the modern world. The writer breathed a sigh of relief when the novel was published: it was no longer necessary to wake up in the middle of the night from obsessions. However, after a while, the writer's hand created another similar masterpiece - "Glamorama".

So whether or not to believe the words of the author, said in an interview, the reader must decide for himself. As for the reviews of the novel, they are too contradictory, but this book did not leave anyone indifferent. The "American Psycho" can be admired, despised, or disgusted. You can try to find among the lines a deep philosophical meaning, a message from the past or a prediction of the future, but never remain indifferent.

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