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

The reviews about the book "American Psycho" are mixed - this is a fact. Someone really imbued with a kind of humor thrash, but someone is disgusted by touching the pages of the book. But in one, the readers are similar - both of them have read the American Psycho to the end. Absolutely unthinkable, the disgusting and wholeheartedly 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 provide food for thought. Amid the sea of ​​blood and all-consuming cruelty, a mute cry for help is heard. The cry of an inconspicuous person whom others take for someone else, and sometimes they don’t even see him or hear him. In reviews of the American Psycho, readers note that this book was not written at all in order to turn the last page and say which protagonist is bad. It makes you wonder (albeit in a slightly unusual manner) how many people notice around, except for himself.

A few words about the author

The author of American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis, is a modern California-based writer. Born March 7, 1964 in Los Angeles (USA). His father was a builder, 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 subjected to violence on his part. In 1992, Robert Ellis dies, he never made peace with his son.

"American Psycho" reader reviews

But these difficult relationships between father and son were reflected in the work of Bret. Even creating the hero Patrick Bateman, the writer relied on the memories of his own father.

The writer does not cover 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 (in 2004 he confirmed this).

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


It is worth noting that reviews of "American Psycho" began to appear even before the book went on sale. Some public organizations have shown open protests. They accused the author of promoting violence and misogyny.

But there were other reviews of the 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, as the previous one, yielding to mass provocations, refused to cooperate with him. Even with a slight delay, the American Psycho hit the shelves of bookstores.


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

american psycho reviews

So, the novel is narrated by a resident of Manhattan Patrick Bateman. By the way, he is a self-proclaimed killer maniac. Actions take place in Manhattan at the end of the 80s of the last century, and the book itself describes about two years from 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 wealthy family. Educated at Exeter Academy and Harvard University, works on Wall Street at Pierce and Pierce.

We can say that Bateman is the embodiment of a typical yuppie (a young wealthy man who is passionate about his professional career and material success leads an active secular lifestyle), although the hero himself denies this comparison.

The main part of the plot is composed of descriptions of Patrick’s crimes, although by the end of the work the reliability of these stories becomes more and more doubtful.

The victims

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

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

Apparently, in these killings there is no system. Even in reviews of the American Psycho, it is mentioned that the protagonist acts without any plan. He just kills for the love of art (if I may say so). The hero commits torture and murder in a variety of ways. Uses firearms, knives, electric tools, and even live rats.

Whom will the hero not kill?

In The American Psycho, Easton Ellis did not forget to indicate characters whom Bateman is not trying to kill. These are Secretary Gene, homosexual Louis Carruthers and fiancée Evelyn Williams. Patrick does not want to kill them, because 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 mundane thing in a murder is not something human in nature. However, in Batman, this humanity, although weakly, is traceable. He talks about romance and love, about how this is reflected in art and music. And he also has a peculiar sense of humor, more than once he ironized about the emptiness and worthlessness of his existence.


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

"American Psycho" Criticism

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

Some readers' reviews of "American Psycho" say 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 well-known family, has success with women. It’s hard not to envy him. But no one knows what kind of person he really is (yes, in fact, he is not trying to find out). Therefore, on the one hand, there is a successful Bateman businessman, and on the other, his bloodthirsty alter ego.

Bateman's personality

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

"American Psycho" book

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

The batman is very specific about his health. He opposes smoking and constantly goes to the gym, but at the same time 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 does not tolerate 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, dines for a long time, listens to music all day or watches TV. In some of the conversations, he even said that he was working in order to comply with the norms accepted in society.

American Psycho: Criticism

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 Bateman’s fictions are concerned. The correlation of reality and fiction has not yet been definitively determined.

The second issue that critics discuss is the relationship between the police and the protagonist. Despite the fact that Bateman did not particularly care about conspiracy, he did not attract the attention of law enforcement agencies. 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 wanted to spit on their work), or maybe they are too busy due to the high crime rate in Manhattan. The reader must decide for himself.


Critics also note that several keynotes can be traced in the book (and later in the film). Firstly, the Broadway production of Les Miserables is mentioned (V. Hugo). Writers have suggested that the very outcasts are the Wall Street yuppies.

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

american psycho book reviews

The Patty Winters Show has also been mentioned throughout history. It discusses various topics that are usually reflected in the yellow press. The audience of the show is perplexed and apathetic reacts to the stories of guests. The closer the end of the book, the more absurd the topics become. Critical reviews say that this may be a sign of the progressive disintegration of the personality of the protagonist.


Also, reviews of the book American Psycho (Ellis Bret) say that this novel is a satire on the moral degradation that occurred in America in the 1980s. Writers (and some readers) believe that all those terrifying savagery and murders are presented to enhance black humor. After all, his whole life Bateman cares only about how he looks in the eyes of others. Speaking separately about the identity of Bateman, then she, as such, is not. He is an ordinary “plastic” man of the 1980s with an imposed opinion, ideals and values.

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

Is this a masterpiece or not?

As already mentioned, reviews of the book are twofold. Someone considers this novel excellent. "American Psycho" is the story of a maniac. Why the book is not like it is understandable. In the novel there are really many scenes of brutal violence and episodes of a sexual nature, which are described in such terrifying details that it is better not to read especially impressionable people. Indeed, there is a feeling as if doused with mud. But if you dig deeper, behind all these disgusting episodes is hiding something more.

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

Basically, the question arises from readers: did the hero really commit all those crimes or did his sick imagination run wild. By the end of the book, such an impression is created, and for this the author uses not trivial clues, but rather interesting literary devices. For example, the story is conducted from the first and third person in turn. The author quite appropriately used this approach, so it turned out interesting.

"American Psycho" meaning

Readers also 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 meaning of the "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 only the same psychopath can understand.

Film adaptation

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 a little not in those places where they were in the novel. But this does not make the story worse. You can consider the film an entertaining remix of the work.

Writing features

It is worth noting another feature of this novel, about which the author himself speaks. 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 me to do, I resisted as much as I could, but the novel continued to force myself to write. I had many hours of failures, and when I woke up, I found the scuffed ten next pages. I came to the conclusion and I don’t know how to express it differently: the novel wanted someone to write it.

Of particular interest is the author’s review of this book. He admitted that he did not like the novel itself, it seemed to Bret disgusting, but Patrick Bateman had already appeared and wanted to taste the glories, presenting himself to the modern world. The writer breathed a sigh of relief when the novel was printed: 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 - Glamor.

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

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/A1340/

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