American Psycho  

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"Abandon all hope, you who enter here"--Divine Comedy (1320) by Dante

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American Psycho is a 1991 novel by Bret Easton Ellis. It is a first-person narrative of the life of a wealthy young Manhattanite serial killer. The graphically violent and sexual content was widely commented upon at the novel's release. A film adaptation was released in 2000 to mostly positive reviews. Its literary antecedent is À rebours.

It tells the story of a yuppie serial killer named Patrick Bateman, who is an aggressive, disaffected psychopath by his own admission: "I am without a single, identifiable human emotion, except for greed and disgust... I am simply not there."

Like "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" and A Clockwork Orange, American Psycho is a mordant social commentary written in the first-person, which adopts (albeit ironically) the skewed point-of-view and corrupt belief system of its anti-hero protagonist. As such, the reader is given a first-hand account of Bateman's psychopathology, which, by extension, becomes a murderous, hyperbolic parody of the corporate consumer (i.e., "yuppie") culture of urban America at the end of the twentieth century. Bateman's obsessive materialism is revealed as a compensation for his basic emotional emptiness and vapid social life. Although he initially derives a measure of satisfaction from his secret life as a brutal sadist and murderer, by the end of the novel not even sadistic sex and killing can arouse any kind of feeling in him.

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