Just say “no” to American Psycho

Never read American Psycho. I wish I could unread what I’ve read.

I picked up a bootleg copy in Cambodia to read on the night train, fearing always being stuck in an enclosed place with nothing to do.

It was a good choice initially. The first 100 pages carried me through two night trains and a red eye flight back home. I couldn’t put the book down.

Bret Easton Ellis is all in. He wrote the book in the first person, so you’re inside the narrator’s head, as he shares every shallow, narcissistic thought. Easton Ellis uses the phrase the mask of insanity in one passage, and I wonder if he read the book, as Vonnegut did, to be able to conjure Patrick Bateman’s psychopathic personality in such detail.

The best books make you think and feel long after you’ve finished them: Slaughterhouse-Five, On the Road, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, for example, about war, adventure and the brevity of life.
But American Psycho stayed with me in the worst way. I’d close the book and feel damaged.

So I started scanning passages rather than reading just to finish the d@mn thing*.
Today I read three dark pages on the Metro and passed out.

People were standing over me looking down when I woke up.
“Who are these people?” I thought, and one man said, “here sit down (on the subway seat).”

The last thing I remember before blacking out was closing the book and feeling nauseous, like I’d puke, not pass out. The insides of my mouth were sweating, and my head was hot. You know how it is when you’re sick. I started looking around for the least offensive place to puke and wondered if I could unzip my backpack in time.

I hurried off the train at the next stop, and dumped the book in a waste bin at Sadang Station.

* You won’t get closure from finishing this book anyway, as to whether the murders took place inside or outside Bateman’s brain. If you must, you can get the dangers of consumerism gist from the first 100 pages and finish with the Wiki crib sheet. There, you’ll also learn that one of the characters is based on John Edwards’s mistress Rielle Hunter.

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