Syllabus: Book 1991 | Out Magazine

Syllabus: Book 1991

Syllabus: Book 1991

American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis

If you cruised Patrick Bateman from afar, youd 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 isnt simply a proto-metrosexual. The questionably reliable narrator of Elliss notorious American Psychothe book was dumped by its initial publisher and led to protests and death threatsspends 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.

Tim and Pete, James Robert Baker

Panned by most gay critics at the time as an irresponsible reaction to the AIDS crisis, Tim and Pete may stand the test of time as one of the greatest, most unapologetic pieces of fiction to emerge from the AIDS epidemic. Like Joan Didion on speed (which was, incidentally, Bakers drug of choice) and featuring the dystopian milieu of Southern California, a location that figures as a major character, Baker painted a nihilistic and revolutionary view of gay culture the likes of which have not been seen since. The titular characters relationship oscillates between tenderness and outright hatred for one another. After being kidnapped by a group of gay terrorists who plan to assassinate President Reagan, Tim and Pete manage to reconcile their differences when faced with the prospect of death at the hands of their captors. Controversial pro-gay agitprop never looked so good, nor left such an indelible mark.

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