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A to Z Challenge: American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis

By 01/04/2022April 21st, 2022atozchallenge, Featured
Have you read the book, American Psycho? Watched the movie? If yes, what did you think? What books remind you of American Psycho?

So here we go, after long years of being away from the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I’m going to write about thrillers of all stripes, mysteries and crime novels for 26 days in April, based on the letters of the alphabet.

I begin with American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis.

America Psycho: Book Description

Patrick Bateman moves among the young and trendy in 1980s Manhattan. Young, handsome, and well educated, Bateman earns his fortune on Wall Street by day while spending his nights in ways we cannot begin to fathom. Expressing his true self through torture and murder, Bateman prefigures an apocalyptic horror that no society could bear to confront.

American Psycho excerpt: (the innocuous, tame, first paragraph)

ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE is scrawled in blood red lettering on the side of the Chemical Bank near the corner of Eleventh and First and is in print large enough to be seen from the backseat of the cab as it lurches forward in the traffic leaving Wall Street and just as Timothy Price notices the words a bus pulls up, the advertisement for Les Misérables on its side blocking his view, but Price who is with Pierce & Pierce and twenty-six doesn’t seem to care because he tells the driver he will give him five dollars to turn up the radio, “Be My Baby” on WYNN, and the driver, black, not American, does so.

“I’m resourceful,” Price is saying. “I’m creative, I’m young, unscrupulous, highly motivated, highly skilled. In essence what I’m saying is that society cannot afford to lose me. I’m an asset.” Price calms down, continues to stare out the cab’s dirty window, probably at the word FEAR sprayed in red graffiti on the side of a McDonald’s on Fourth and Seventh. “I mean the fact remains that no one gives a shit about their work, everybody hates their job, I hate my job, you’ve told me you hate yours. What do I do? Go back to Los Angeles? Not an alternative. I didn’t transfer from UCLA to Stanford to put up with this. I mean am I alone in thinking we’re not making enough money?” Like in a movie another bus appears, another poster for Les Misérables replaces the word—not the same bus because someone has written the word DYKE over Eponine’s face. Tim blurts out, “I have a co-op here. I have a place in the Hamptons, for Christ sakes.”

“Parents’, guy. It’s the parents’.”

“I’m buying it from them. Will you fucking turn this up?” he snaps but distractedly at the driver, the Crystals still blaring from the radio.

“It don’t go up no higher,” maybe the driver says.

Timothy ignores him and irritably continues. “I could stay living in this city if they just installed Blaupunkts in the cabs. Maybe the ODM III or ORC II dynamic tuning systems?” His voice softens here. “Either one. Hip my friend, very hip.”

About the author of American Psycho

Bret Easton Ellis  is an American author, screenwriter, short-story writer, and director. He is the author of five novels and a collection of short stories; his work has been translated into twenty-seven languages. He is a self-proclaimed satirist whose trademark technique, as a writer, is the expression of extreme acts and opinions in an affectless style. His novels commonly share recurring characters.

Why pick up American Psycho

I’ll be honest. I picked it up purely because I’d heard so much about it and wanted to know what the buzz was about. It starts off innocuously enough, with long, colorful descriptions of the upper-class in Manhattan in the 1980s, its racism and sexism, its obsession with image and wealth, until you realize you’re in the mind of a pyscopathic killer. He kills indiscriminately, men, women, animals, and with a dispassionate voice tells us all while making plans for the evening with his investment banker friends. What’s more, the violence goes on, for pages, graphically. I had to take many breaks and was nauseous at the end of it. I do not recommend it for anyone with no stomach for violence, which I guess should be everybody, but sadly that’s not the world we live in. There’s violence, heaps of it, cycles of it, generations of it. Over and covert violence, and especially violence against women’s bodies.

Ellis has written it as satire, going to extreme lengths to make it a commentary of out basest impulses as individuals, and societies. Its ugliness is the ugliness of humanity. I read it when I was much younger, and could still glaze over violence. If asked if I’d read it again? Probably not.

It probably was a great lesson in voice, in tone, and in maniacally detailed description (I have killer’s voice in my latest novel), but the older me can’t help but wonder about the lingering, languishing–you might even call it wallowing– in the misogyny and violence. After a certain point, you think, I got your point. Really, I did. Let’s move on to the next thing–this is not a slasher movie.

That’s the thing, the fans tell me, it is meant to be relentless.

American Psycho is one you’d have to decide for yourself. For me, I guess the book (and the movie) is VERY worth it for the conversations it generates, but I don’t know if I can take the roiling of gore and death any more, not when I see so much of it visited upon humanity everyday.


Have you read the book, American Psycho? Watched the movie? If yes, what did you think? What thrillers have you read lately ?


American psycho A to Z Challenge Rafflecopter giveaway Damyanti Biswas The Blue Bar

Through the month of April,  to celebrate the challenge and get some support for THE BLUE BAR, I’m  holding this giveaway:

Enter to WIN a 50 USD Amazon gift card for this

 Giveaway.

Entries are simple: click the RAFFLECOPTER link above, and follow the instructions. It calls for a Goodreads add, a subscription request, and a follow on Instagram.

And if you want a shot at a mega prize, here’s another rafflecopter for 350 USD (yes, that’s the correct amount) you can enter by following authors, including me, on Bookbub.


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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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34 Comments

  • Dan Antion says:

    I just realized that I am getting your newsletter but not notifications. Trying to subscribe again.

  • I remember how controversial this book was when it came out. I wouldn’t have the stomach for it. I lived in Wichita, Kansas at the time a serial killer, BTK, was active (1977 era). That was enough for me. Alana ramblinwitham

  • This book has always fascinated me due to the interplay between the book and the wonderfully uncomfortable movie. Thanks for this!

  • Frewin55 says:

    I have neither read this book nor seen the film, but I have read another satirical book by Brett Ellis-Easton – Glamorama. In fact I read it twice – some years apart, because it was so surreal, that I couldn’t decide whether I had taken it in first time round. I have concluded that it is quite brilliant if not prophetic but it never seems to have achieved the same status as American Psycho – perhaps because it has not been turned into a film – a sad inditement of modern readers – or rather the lack of them…
    A good start to your A2Z. I opened your blog on a very large screen and was startled to see you appear near life size lol!

  • Arlee Bird says:

    Glad you posted the link to this post as I was also having problems finding your A to Z posts.
    Good to see you back with the Challenge!

    I haven’t read this book, but I recently recorded the movie when it was on television. I’ll probably watch it soon.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out Battle of the Bands

  • Jemima Pett says:

    You won’t be surprised to know I steered clear of it when it came out, clear of the moive, and have no wish to read any more of it than I have, thank you!
    But it’s probably brilliant.

  • Ronel Janse van Vuuren says:

    As much as I enjoy thrillers, there are some types I steer clear from — and this is one of those.

    Ronel visiting for the A-Z Challenge My Languishing TBR: A

  • Susan Scott says:

    No, I haven’t read it, though have heard of it! I wonder if I would have the stomach for it … well, there are psychopaths in politics and elsewhere and we get on with them in our midst. Is art imitating life or the other way around?

  • DutchIl says:

    Thank you for sharing!!… haven’t read the book or seen the movie… at this moment Agatha Christie has my attention… 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May your day be touched
    by a bit of Irish luck,
    Brightened by a song
    in your heart,
    And warmed by the smiles
    of people you love.
    (Irish Saying)

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – I’m going to enjoy your A-Z … a really interesting theme. The answer to your first two questions is No, and No!! I’m not too good with thriller books either – though watch light-hearted ones on the tv (for relief I say to myself!) … cheers and enjoy the A-Z – Hilary

  • literarylad says:

    I think when we’re young, we’re less susceptible to that kind of violence and cruelty in fiction. But as we get older, we start to think about it more deeply; to think about what it actually means, and relate it to what’s going on in the world. So it becomes harder to read, or to watch; even though we know it isn’t real. I do think though, that violence and cruelty is easier to read in a book, than to see in film.

  • timsbrannan says:

    I have always wanted to read this book but somehow I have just gotten around to it.

  • Shilpa Gupte says:

    You are just mahaan, Damyanti! You are neck deep in your work on The Blue Bar, and here you are, participating in the A to Z!!! Aapke charan kahaan hain, maatey! 😛

    As far as American Psycho goes, I haven’t read it and from all that you shared about the book, I don’t want to read it, ever. I can watch violence, but some days, my mind and soul can’t take it all. The blood and gore and the evil…there is too much of it in the real world, already.

    All the best for the A to Z! <3

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Hahahahaha I’m struggling and haven’t had time to pre-schedule posts! American Psycho does take a huge toll. I read it years back, don’t know if I can take it now.

      Sending hugs, and hope to see you here often 🙂

  • eschudel says:

    I’m excited for your challenge as I’m always looking for books to add to my TBR pile. I am not sure I’ll add this one, but I am intrigued!

  • Susan says:

    Love your theme…I may use your blog to create my summer reading list 🙂

  • For some reason I don’t think I have read it, though my reading diet often includes thrillers and mysteries.

  • S. says:

    I’m definitely in the no stomach for violence category, but looking forward to hearing about less gory thrillers! Great theme!

  • I saw the movie, which did not give me any desire to read the book it was based on. Yuk.

  • I didn’t read the book but saw the movie with Christian Bale, who gave a spine-chilling performance. I read Misery by Stephen King and that was as creepy and violent as I could take…and barely, since I had to also put the book down at dark parts.

    I worked in criminal justice for years and saw enough of that persona to last me a lifetime. But it is a reminder that human behavior in its extreme forms does exist.

    • DamyantiB says:

      Humans are capable of the highest forms of compassion and the greatest cruelties. It is hard to confront, but sometimes that must be done… after the last two years I have lost any appetite for darkness…

  • I’ve seen bits of the movie, but when it gets into areas of torture porn, it’s not my style I’m afraid.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Mine neither, Alex. But I believe the book starts important conversations.

  • I love thrillers, Damyanti. I think I’ll enjoy your AtoZ!

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