Syllabus: Book 1991

9.18.2007

By Justin Ravitz

American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis

If you cruised Patrick Bateman from afar, you'd desire and envy his chiseled face and body, his staggeringly luxe wardrobe. His ablution and workout regimens and endless talk of sartorial etiquette (tasseled loafers with suits?) would shame Beckham. But this late-'80s moneyed investment banker isn't simply a proto-metrosexual. The questionably reliable narrator of Ellis's notorious American Psycho'the book was dumped by its initial publisher and led to protests and death threats'spends his off-hours torturing and killing bums, women, gay men, whomever, describing his appalling massacres in the detailed, detached tone of a Neiman Marcus catalog. The designer labels have changed, but Psycho is just as harrowing and transgressive today. Queer author Ellis secured his place in the literary pantheon with this intense opus, delivering a darkly comic GQ-style bogeyman whose emptiness and estrangement are terrifyingly familiar.

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