Read American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis Free Online
Book Title: American Psycho|
The author of the book: Bret Easton Ellis
Date of issue: February 2nd 2012
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Format files: PDF
The size of the: 350 KB
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Reader ratings: 4.3
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jason, an old high school buddy, knew i was in manhattan for a few nights and asked to meet up for dinner. fuck it, i'm a sentimental guy, and it's nice to catch up -- even with a wall street douchebag. jason told me that lisa, another old friend, would be joining. here's the conversational breakdown at dinner:
20 minutes: comparing features on their new blackberries.
40 minutes: the new zagat guide and the city's best restaurants.
20 minutes: glib commentary on people we grew up with.
lisa leaves and jason asks me to walk a few blocks and check out his new apartment "fucking sick pad, bro, sick" -- unable to deal with any more of this shit without backup, i text the address to bryan and john; they meet up and we sit in jason's super large, super minimalist, picture-window-overlooking-the-city apartment shooting the shit and drinking johnnie walker blue label. jason is quickly bored and calls over two hookers. he hits the bedroom with the cuter of the two; me john and bryan sit at the living room table and drink blue label with the other one. five minutes passes and we hear this from jason's bedroom:
jason (screams): 'get off! get the fuck off!'
we're all wondering what it is, exactly, she is on that he wants her off of. and if we should go in there and see if everything's ok. and then again:
jason: 'get the fuck off!'
hooker: 'shut up!'
the door busts open and the hooker storms out with a very angry jason behind her ranting that she took a phone call while giving him head and carried on a conversation while licking his balls.
so it's a moment of hilarious revelation when we realize that what jason wanted her to get off of, of course, was her phone.
phone girl looks to blue label girl: 'you ready to go?'
blue label girl: 'you get paid?'
phone girl nods.
jason (angry): 'you're not going anywhere! i fucking paid for two girls! all we got was a half!'
the girls pause and give us the once over, i imagine, to gauge if we're the kinda guys to get violent or to let 'em just walk out with jason's money. they're professionals and know their shit. they walk out.
jason lamely chides us for not getting his back.
me bryan and john go down to von for a beer.
i recently re-read american psycho only a few weeks after returning from jason's (second) wedding in a vineyard in napa. they wouldn't allow any alcohol other than their own wine to be drunk, so everyone compensated with dimebags and eightballs. and i spent hours talking to all these coked-out shitbags (and, yeah, i guess i was a coked-out shitbag, but in an entirely different non-patrick-batemanesque way) -- here's the wedding conversational breakdown:
- new gadgets (iphones, stereos, flatscreens, cars)
- we are at the top of the system because we are the smartest and most shrewd and if obama is going to regulate us and put more money in the hands of the poor, we will be forced to prey on the poor… good job obama, you just fucked the poor in a way bush never could have.
- is jay-z the 'new sinatra'?
- vacation spots. (st. barts, maui, etc)
- can we get more coke?
- you know how much money greg has? fucking sick, bro. you know he took a fucking private helicopter here, right?
- jason's stepsister is kinda hot. you think i can fuck her?
easton ellis's book isn't really much of an exaggeration. what it is: controlled, hilarious, horrible, tragic, honest. and he employs some great little warholian tricks (whereas andy lined up pictures of mao, marilyn, & minestrone, easton ellis clobbers us with a quick repetition of interwoven, passive-voiced, flattened-out sentences about daytime television, anal rape, and fashion tips) to accent his truly mad book.
but the big question: is american psycho a book that hates women? i guess. I mean, it's about and for a culture that hates women, no? now, i don't really wanna defend the book against these charges; more fun to wonder what those who view american psycho as woman-hating or anti-feminist make of the dozens (hundreds?) of panty-sniffing television shows, movies, graphic novels, books, and video games that blanket pop culture?
consider, as a mild example, Law & Order: SVU.
here we have a show in which every episode is about an underage girl raped. or a coma victim raped. or an old woman raped. written, shot, and ingested as titillating panty-sniffing nonsense. less offensive because it takes itself so seriously? because one of the cops is a woman? or because it's able to take a preposterous and unrealistic moral standpoint in 'punishing' the crime/criminal by having them jailed or killed? or, in those rare occasions when the rapist isn't caught, we're given a profound & poignant & important commentary on violence and crime and the justiceblahfuckingblah.
or do CSI, SVU, COLD CASE, etc. get a pass because they're low art, light entertainment, 'not taken seriously'...? the shit's backwards, yo.
to be totally honest, i have a hard time seeing how one views (as so many do) american psycho as 'woman hating' or 'anti-woman' or 'anti-feminist' -- i suspect that easton ellis is so good at what he does, his depiction of violence so visceral, excessive, and demented that it literally pushes people to a point in which they must either reduce the book to a 'commentary on society and consumerism and capitalism' (ugh) or to the point at which the excess drowns out any point easton ellis imagines he's making.
and then there's a complaint best made by David Foster Wallace:
"I think it's a kind of black cynicism about today's world that Ellis and certain others depend on for their readership. Look, if the contemporary condition is hopelessly shitty, insipid, materialistic, emotionally retarded, sadomasochistic, and stupid, then I (or any writer) can get away with slapping together stories with characters who are stupid, vapid, emotionally retarded, which is easy, because these sorts of characters require no development. With descriptions that are simply lists of brand-name consumer products. Where stupid people say insipid stuff to each other. If what's always distinguished bad writing -- flat characters, a narrative world that's cliched and not recognizably human, etc. -- is also a description of today's world, then bad writing becomes an ingenious mimesis of a bad world. If readers simply believe the world is stupid and shallow and mean, then Ellis can write a mean shallow stupid novel that becomes a mordant deadpan commentary on the badness of everything. Look man, we'd probably most of us agree that these are dark times, and stupid ones, but do we need fiction that does nothing but dramatize how dark and stupid everything is? In dark times, the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what's human and magical that still live and glow despite the times' darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it'd find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it. You can defend "Psycho" as being a sort of performative digest of late-eighties social problems, but it's no more than that."
while i find his stance admirable and elegantly stated, there's so so so much i disagree with here -- i guess it all comes down to an ear-drum shattering 'NO!' i do not believe that 'in dark times the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements.' i believe that could be a definition of 'good art', but not the definition. norman mailer (who tried, and failed, to create an american psycho type book with his an american dream) complains that easton ellis offers no alternative to the 'flat, insipid' life of patrick bateman... DFW and mailer seem to suggest that we need two things from art:
1. we need to follow a traditional model of literature which presents the good contrasted against the bad (i.e. tolstoy, dickens, etc); an art which offers an alternative morality, a way out, a 'CPR', something better... this is, of course, reactionary nonsense. what's good for leo, charlie, dave, or norm ain't necessarily good for the gander.
2. we need a representation of the 'good' in our art to show the reader an alternative or a means to break free. bullshit: while orwell needed a winston smith in order to achieve the intended effect of 1984, i cannot conceive of an american psycho with a moral voice. the moral voice comes not from the narrator or characters within the novel, but from the reader herself.
and look -- most of the shit i dig tries to do just this: "illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it" -- finding a means to live with integrity in a world of shit is an underlying theme in most of the shit i respond to and/or create. but, again, this does not mean that it is the author's job (or the creator of 'good art') to proceed along those lines. in fact, what i most appreciate about easton ellis is his refusal to trace over pre-defined lines.
as helpful, at times, as it might be to read litcrit and reviews which approach the novel as a kind of book-shaped container meant to convey certain ideas, standpoints, or commentaries... as a reader (for me, at least), it's a killer. deadly. american psycho is a great book in that, yes, there's lots of serious shit going on in there that lends itself to term papers, academic essays, and the like; and, yes, it succeeds wonderfully in defining a particular point in american history... but also because it transcends all that. it creates (here goes my generalization), as does all 'good art', the ineffable feeling only able to be expressed through that particular work. no other contemporary writer (except, perhaps, delillo at his best) is able to infuse a work with such dread. the dread that easton ellis creates in this book goes far beyond DFW's simple assertion that american psycho 'does nothing but dramatize how dark and stupid everything is.'
transcendence through dread, baby.
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Read information about the authorBret Easton Ellis is an American author. He is considered to be one of the major Generation X authors and was regarded as one of the so-called literary Brat Pack, which also included Tama Janowitz and Jay McInerney. He has called himself a moralist, although he has often been pegged as a nihilist. His characters are young, generally vacuous people, who are aware of their depravity but choose to enjoy it. The novels are also linked by common, recurring characters, and dystopic locales (such as Los Angeles and New York).
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