American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
It feels deeply appropriate to Cannonball with a book that I read for the first time four years ago, a book that set off my dissertation in motion and is now in process of becoming my (hopefully) next published article. Cheers!
I first read this book in Spring of 2013 and was horrified/piqued by the content. I was so piqued that I wrote my first dissertation chapter on it. I’ve spent the last year and a half trying to get an article published, and the new focus I’m taking meant a re-read with fresh eyes.
Holy shitsnacks. This book is so relevant 26 years later. It’s like Bret Easton Ellis saw a fragile thread of masculinity, tied up in consumerism, racism, misogyny, and violence, and explored it to its logical end. He sets up the pathological character of Patrick Bateman, explores his darkest homicidal psychopathic tendencies, and then implies that he is interchangeable with every other kind of yuppie like him.
Oh. Guys, I think he has a point.
It’s a dark commentary on humanity, and one that I did not fully understand until 2016.
And now I do.
The spectre of Donald Trump hangs over the text, and I firmly believe that this is no accident. When I first read the text, I skimmed over his name, because it was 2013, and he was just the mercurial and overly tanned old man on The Apprentice. Much has changed between that first reading and this one, and this is where I hope to mine my article. I must give enormous credit to a student in my Fall 2016 Comp 1 class, because she read American Psycho for her book project and mentioned Trump’s presence in the novel. X, I thank you for reigniting my scholarly curiosity. Now it’s off to write the article!
*I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a warning for those of you who need it. This book is *graphic.* It’s a violent glimpse at white male anger against women, minorities, the homeless, LGBT individuals, animals, and the disabled. If you’re not in a space to read it, I wouldn’t. There are some absolutely gruesome murders that I fully believe Ellis intended to be gruesome to make a point. But that doesn’t make the reading of it easier or less painful. This time around, reading about the killing of the homeless was a gut-punch to me. I had forgotten how utterly cruel Bateman and his cronies were to the homeless individuals pan-handling on the streets.