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“when i was your age, television was called books!”—Peter Faulk, The Princess Bride

Delicious Demon: American Psycho

Bret Easton Ellis American Psycho

Every time I walked past American Psycho in a book store, I was mesmerized by the cover: a vaguely victorian photograph of a sinister, steely-eyed yuppie. I knew it was a grisly book about a psycho serial killer. I didn’t read these kinds of books.

Now, I don’t mind movie violence. It doesn’t get inside me and linger. (One notable exception includes Larry Clark’s Kids). But reading mainlines a subject right to the brain, and that particular drug wasn’t my bag, baby. So I saw the movie instead.

Director Mary Harron’s take on Patrick Bateman’s mad shenanigans is pretty gruesome, but it relies more on the suggestion of violence than on graphic torture-porn. She made a wise decision by focusing on the book’s biting satire and black humor that pervades even it’s most horrifying passages. The art direction for the 80′s period piece is pitch perfect, and Christian Bale’s deliberately affected performance is spooky and hilarious. The fact that my girlfriend Chloe Sevigny is in it don’t hurt none either. (Ok, you know she’s not my girlfriend right? I mean in my mind.)

After watching the movie 4 or 5 times, I decided to ignore the better angels of my nature and see if I could get through the book. It is in fact, extremely grisly. And at first, psycho Bateman’s repetitious rants are a little tedious. But gradually, the genius of the narrative reveals itself as it drags you into a world obsessed with money, status, designer clothing, over-wrought culinary concoctions and meticulously crafted business cards (Good coloring. That’s bone. And the lettering is something called Silian Rail).

As I read on, I could hardly think of anything else, especially as a denizen of New York City. I would sit on the subway, nervously eyeing a Wall Street suit, wondering what this guy does when he leaves work at night.

A reviewer on Amazon aptly described American Psycho as a narcotic. It is indeed not unlike a Halcyon high, a book that wacks you out, leaving you feeling it’s influence long after the dose wears off. This may or may not sound like a pleasant experience, but it’s a remarkably adept piece of writing.

Don’t just look at it. Eat it.


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