Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fully sick, but in a bad way.

I recently read American Psycho. I am quite the book nerd - I have over 100 books in my collection, which may not sound that impressive until you realise that I am a renting nomad who has to haul these leather-bound tomes and frail antique hardcovers from apartment to apartment. So when I purchased Bret Easton Ellis' infamous book, unwrapping the shrink wrap (R-rated warning sticker and everything) just added to the normal excitement of cracking a new book's spine. A few pages in, it felt like I was part of some adults' club, delving into a porno. This is a book that earned its author death threats and hate mail while simultaneously scoring rave reviews.

I will never read American Psycho again. Ever.

I should clarify. It's an intense, telling view into superficial consumerism of the late eighties and early nineties. I have only witnessed words express a person's character so well like this a handful of times (another great example being The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time). The taut writing style at the novel's genesis slowly gives way to frenetic, maddening twists of language to accompany the Bateman's descent into lunacy and personal hell, bar the occasional cold, disorientating passage about something completely impersonal and separated from his situation to display his complete dis-attachment from normalcy. Add bonus points for a vague, ambiguous ending that's open to interpretation, and this all reads like something from Lev Grossman and Richard Lacayo's All TIME 100 Novels. Sounds like a pretty good piece of literature, doesn't it? And it certainly was.

The only problem (for me) was Ellis' undeniable brilliance when it comes to painting scenes. I know this is one of those talents that our high school teachers sang praises about, and maybe if Ellis was writing a book on fairies and cupcakes and teen love, it would be just dandy. The only problem is that sometimes I really don't want to vividly imagine a girl with a pipe shoved up her vagina (of course burnt up a little with some good old acid to make the hole wider, and smeared with Brie cheese), with a starved and tortured rat pushed through the pipe. Then of course the murderer has to start sawing her with a chain saw. I also don't want to read about anything involving a nail gun to the hands, or burning eyelids. Shudder.

There are just some things that you can't "un-remember".

Trailer of the film based on the book, for anyone who dislikes reading.


Paige X. Cho said...

It IS possible to this something is excellent on a objective level, but dislike it on a subjective level.