This book is the (mercifully) unillustrated equivalent of violent hardcore porn.

Do not even open it if you are remotely female or otherwise prone to feeling physically sickened by reading graphic descriptions of the rape, mutilation, torture and murder of women (and some men, animals and children). I did slog through to the end (having wimped out of Trainspotting which was also deeply unpleasant but which at least did not feature horrifically mutilated corpses) but had to skip over great chunks of text, whole chapters in fact, in order to keep going.

Who votes for this kind of book, as their all-time favourite read? Are there that many people out there who like to read about women being tortured and killed?

The book is set in around 1989, and protagonist Pat Bateman is a yuppie type who works on Wall Street and has just about everything material that you could want. He is, like all his shallow Wall Street friends, obsessed with clothes, accessories and restaurant cuisine (I had to skip some of that stuff too, just because it was so boring). He is also, like all his friends, rampantly misogynist.

Only, unlike his friends, he is a twisted evil psychopath to boot, and becomes increasingly insane as the book progresses. We are not clearly told whether his horrifying sadism is actually enacted as he describes it in the first person narrative, or whether it is merely part of a twisted fantasy life (perhaps, he himself does not even know what is real) in which he plays the sadistic serial killer bastard. I lean to the latter view, although I don’t think it makes a great deal of difference to my appreciation of the book.

The plot? Missing in action.

The point? I guess Ellis (if we are to try and give him some credit for even having a point to this vile orgy) wanted to show up the emptiness and shallow vapidity of the Wall Street existence, and how a life in which all material wants can so easily be satisfied is inevitably going to turn bad in some way. Perhaps he wanted to create an unflinching analysis of what it means to be a psychopath. Maybe. Or maybe he is just a revolting misogynistic bastard himself, who likes to think up ever more creative ways of torturing women. Certainly, if he had any genuine desire to enlighten rather than merely to horrify (and/or titllate) then he could have cut the graphic torture scenes hugely. I was sufficiently nauseated even by what I did read – and I skipped or skimmed an awful lot.

I didn’t think this Big Read project would get any lower than Trainspotting. I was wrong.

Here’s an Amazon link.
I had a copy already because, get this, somebody recommended it to me. I don’t usually go in for book burning but, in this case, I might just make an exception.

Now I need to go read something clean and wholesome.