Bateman is an emotionally bankrupt, handsome and intelligent Wall Street yuppie, setting the scene for a disturbing plummet into psychosis.
We get the gist when he nonchalantly claims that his secretary (and other women) are in love with him. He simply sees them as ‘hardbodies’, victims of his cloying charms. The characters remain oblivious to the black hole within Bateman, instead, preoccupied with their ambitions.
He has an OCD attitude to vanity, being an expert in clothing and grooming. I imagine his bachelor pad to be grossly clinical, full of perpendicular lines and shiny surfaces. The simple beauty of a sunset has no place here. His religion remains with his platinum credit card; if any of his colleagues dare to outdo him in this area, Bateman fantasizes about smashing their faces in.
Bateman’s OCD attitude leaches into his music tastes, where we encounter his in depth reviews of artists such as Whitney Houston and Genesis. But something is missing in his evaluations. There is no mention of how a chord progression or vocal arpeggio has tweaked the hairs on his nape. His cannot be tweaked.
His friends share soulless values: where to dine, what to wear, even what mineral water to drink. Everyone is good looking, seen at the right places and the result is that everyone acts the same – like drones.
But this syrupy perfection contrasts starkly with Bateman’s inner thoughts which are so ugly to be blackly comical. After slaughtering a Japanese cook, Bateman bequeaths his ditzy girlfriend, Evelyn a bloodied fortune cookie, stating the red substance is sweet and sour sauce. A work colleague, Carruthers, hopelessly infatuated with Bateman, clasps Bateman’s ankle in Barney’s bar, like an overgrown toddler expressing his love for an object fully behind his rose-tinted glasses.
Meanwhile, Bateman slays tramps, prostitutes and colleagues that no one notices has gone missing. Reflecting Batemans disintegration of his identity, he keeps getting mistaken for someone else. The story of Bateman grows ever darker, his slayings growing more frantic, grisly and psychotic, involving eyeballs and private parts. I found myself wishing that something would break the spell.
Bateman’s girlfriend, Evelyn should have been the ideal bait, being ditzy, naive and gullible, yet this seemed to be the saving of her. She then glimpses the real Bateman when she tries to reminisce on their long courtship. But Bateman shows no sentiment, for history is synonymous with nostalgia.
The latter part of the book did become like a bludgeon to the head, where Bateman’s inner thoughts repeat like acid reflux. He has becomes the black hole version of the void fed by the blurring of contentment and greed. Does this define the true qualities of the psychopath? It seemed fitting that Bateman’s story would be set in the Yuppie Eighties.
I saw the movie first then bought the book to explain the movie better - it didnt much. It did, however, thrill albeit in an extreme and very graphic sense. There is a pervasive dark humour amongst extreme violence that is most certainly not for everyone's taste.
I'd recommend watching the movie. If you enjoyed that and weren't squeamish in any way, imagine the book is similar but turned way up in detail.
My one complaint is some of the purposefully boring sections - entire rants on music or guns etc. The can bog down the reading. Beyond that, you have the story of a sexual serial killer and his day to day interactions with people he despises in 1980s.