Thursday, August 04, 2005

... this is not an exit.



Boy oh boy. Sometimes a work comes along that you think you can graspe, take hold and look at with inquizzitive eyes, without plunging into it's darkness - but Bret Easton Ellis' third novel, AMERICAN PSYCHO, is not one of those works.

I think we all know the subject matter and probably have seen the film with Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman - Wall Street yuppie/mass murderer - actually, I rented the film last weekend and found it to be still quite disturbing, but poignant and fascinating at the same time.

The book - not surprisingly, is more so of everything. The descriptions of wardrobes and restaurant dishes are numerous and overwhelming (I continue to feel my mind slip as Bateman goes into the greatest detail of each piece of 80's garb!) - the story is even more obscene - and the murders... well... are borderline unacceptable.



This is the first book I have read by Mr. Ellis - his style is fascinating yet repetitive at the same time. Moments of reflection and contemplation of Bateman's actions come in the form of ironic statements of psychoticness that are slid in amongst Bateman's derranged ramblings of materialist grandeur! The pace of the insane descriptions are frantic... and often very effective, creating the same twitching/throbbing sensation of Bateman in my own mind.



Yet, with all of the commentary - ironic - critical look at impact of materialistic obsession and how sick and empty the consumer life can be... the book seems far too obsessive with the details of torture and murder. I understand the impact a description of destroying a homeless man and his dog can be to the reader... and how variations on murders will help show how Bateman judges all equally... but the repetition of the slaughters... and the enormous details of each (including the pornographic - yet emotionally void honesty of the sex scenes) seems to open a dark place in the readers mind. These images are so offensive... so imaginatively violent... that they attempt to deter me from finishing the book.

Last night, a mere 60 odd pages from fruition - I put it down... unable to stomach the events I had read. Granted, I finished the words... but the scene grew in my mind... twisted, became more... I saw moments within the murder I never wanted to see.. and that was my imagination beginning to take Bateman's psyche and using it as fuel for my own. That disturbed the hell out of me!



I will finish the book - I will read the rest of his works... but I am unsure how Mr. Ellis' own mind handles the balancing act of writing these words... and looking at them as words... as opposed to his own derranged thoughts.

Yo

122 comments:

Kern said...

Jed: I liked the thoughtful analysis of the book. What you said toward the end is quite true. It becomes harder and harder not to feel yourself being pulled into his world. In many respects, it's strange how he's able to so calmly recount some of the events that happen. I think it's his pure lack of emotion and bizarre rationality that makes the book 100 times more disturbing than if the words were an actual confession of a blathering lunatic. I say that if yr going to read more Ellis, please let the next book be Less Than Zero. I read that book in the sixth grade, and my friend Jarrod contends that this has a lot to do with my present mental state today. I think there were far more influential factors, but that's another story...

Damfino said...

Did you do any blow while reading it?

On a more specific note, I dug seeing Sean Bateman added in the story... though I am not sure how necessary it was. Rules was written right before this, correct?

Kern said...

I don't remember, but I think American Psycho came out in 1990, and Rules came out later.

Seriously though, get Less Than Zero. It's so much better than the film it's ridiculous. Though the film does have two things going for it. One is Robert Downey Jr., who played that role like he was born for it. And secondly was the scene where Andrew McCarthy and Jami Gertz go looking for him at a club which is playing a version of Inna Gadda Da Vida by Slayer.

That ruled!!!

Kern said...

By the way, Ellis has a new one coming out this month called Lunar Park.

Damfino said...

Saw that... kinda why I wanted to read through his stuff... though, no libraries carry it (cept Galmoramma for some reason).

Kern said...

Lunar Park sounds messed up but interesting. Are you saying Glamorama is the only one they have at the library? I've heard that one's quite good, actually. I'd think that you'd be able to score a used copy of Less Than Zero somewhere, though. Half Price Books, perhaps?

urnotme said...

Yo
Thanks for calling last night.
Did you sell your car?

Damfino said...

Sorry Stevens... did not get home til 8:30. Showing car tonight.

Chili was good - you are a poser.

Deit Heimley said...

OK. I like your analysis of the book too, but I still have no desire to ever read Ellis. I realize that makes me a near pariah here, but what's new. It seems to be my specialty to not like the things Jed stares at with awe. But let me explain.

In general I read book by people who are dead. I don't like Ellis because he is a bad story teller of gets too encombered in his own social metaphors, but because his descriptions are a bit tiring. Just tell me the suit was blue and go on with it. He does that in many books.

And before you ask how I could know this, let me say I have picked up American Pycho a few years ago when everyone was talking about him. I found him overly complex, and when you tear away his lush language his characters are rather cardboard. If I want lush language, make it about the character and not about the color of the walls.

But Kern does make a point. I should pick up Less Than Zero. Even my favorite writers have put out one bad book.

Oh, and by comparison one of my favorite of the dark writers is Virginia Wolfe who goes into almost zero detail on anything. I also ADORE Herman Hesse who can almost be obtuse in his descriptions but it really allows the book to be nearly timeless.

Damfino said...

I don't think it is blasphemy to not read Ellis - I am not sure he is even that respected an author.

I agree that his characters could be cardboardish... something that is bothering me a tad - but then again this book is definitely not a character study... it is much broader.. and Bateman may not even be really seeing anyone!

Never read any Hesse or Wolfe - but then again, I am just stepping out of King - so I got a few to read.

urnotme said...

Let's not forget Silvia Plath and Jose Conseco.

Damfino said...

HA! Conseco is on Surreal Life now!

krysta jo said...

Good morning all

Deit Heimley said...

OK. If you two (Jed and Dan) want a great to read that just messes up your mind, read Amerika by Franz Kafka. I have yet to have someone finish that book. It is so depressing I found myself looking for rope and a looking at overpasses with an odd delight. Perhaps THE most depressing book I have ever read.

The book was written as a travellouge through America by a person who never left Prague. He got a few things wrong, but that doesn't matter. He is trying to sum up his impression of the American Spirit.

Basically, as Kafka summed it up, the American way of life is full of pain and crushed opportunity. There is no security, and everyone is out to either kill or steal from each other. Tradition is taboo. However there is always a tomorrow in America. You are never trapped. The whole pain of being American is to push you to try more and more new life and expiriences. It's an amazing book if you can actually get through it.

Kafka needed Prozac!

Damfino said...

I loved the Trial - Kafka is definitely not the easiest read.

I could not get through Camus' The Fall - all told in first person with the narrator seemingly lying all the time.

Kern finished it.

Kern said...

I need to go back and restart The Trial. I started it last year, but I was really distracted and I need to give it another shot.

Morning KJ and Urnotme.

Deit Heimley said...

American is far worse than The Trial. In The Trial, you know things are bad and you get used to it. It's like his short The Metomophosis. You just know things are all going wrong. But in Amerika, you keep getting your hopes up, and all seems to be going great and you are starting to feel happy, then it hits. It is a long exploration of despair. I loved The Trial, but had a hard time getting through Amerika because it made me feel so hopeless.

Kern said...

I did love Camus' The Fall however. It's been a while, I can never remember the specifics well enough to hold a good conversation about it later.

Deit Heimley said...

So, Kern and Jed of the dark writers (those who explore the darker side of life or those feelings of depression) who is your favorite? Ellis?

Damfino said...

I am a illiterate fool - John Grisham? A Time to Kill was awfully dark!

(please, if you are a John Grisham fan - don't take offense... then toss yourself out of a moving vehicle)

Kern said...

Hmm...I haven't read that much Ellis to be honest. I have found that my choice is a less obvious one, though I believe still appropriate. I would say Russell Banks. One probably wouldn't immediately pick him, but when they look at his canon they might feel different. Look at the books he's written: Affliction(abusive father, alcoholism), Sweet Hereafter(Bus accident killing and maiming schoolkids), Rule of The Bone(Sleazy runaway malcontent running away to Jamaica to meet his real father who is a scumbag), Continental Drift(a book about the parallel lives of a refugee smuggler and a Hatian woman who longs to come to America and the tragic way their paths cross).

Yep. Banks for me.

Damfino said...

I desperately want to read Affliction and then see Schrader's flick.

Ford is awfully depressing as well.

Kern said...

I was going to say Ford, but I didn't know if he qualified as being "dark" enough. I love Ford though.

Also, some of John Updike's stuff is not too cheerful. I've only read the first two Rabbit books, but they were pretty dark.

Damfino said...

Anybody know any peppy writers?

D. Adams? D. Sedaris? B. Campbell (he he)

Kern said...

I like Sedaris. Don't you think there's an undercurrent of darkness in some of his stories, though? I just read one he did for GQ this month, and it was kind of dark. I loved it, though.

Kern said...

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett was rather peppy.

Damfino said...

Sedaris does have some darker undertones... his latest is definitely his most "dreary."

Is that a novel or a comic?

Deit Heimley said...

DAMMIT!!

I had an awesome post and the site crashed on me as I was posting!!

Deit Heimley said...

OK. Here's what I was going to say on Ford. Jed really ruined Ford for me. He told me to read Ford because he wrote stories like Sedaris (who I have long idolized), so I went into Ford with the wrong thoughts in my head and I hated it. Ford is NOTHING like Sedaris. Yes, Sedaris is darkish, but there is just so much humor there and you really don't feel sorry for Sedaris's characters like you do with Ford. I felt pity for many of Ford's characters and after reading Sedaris and that whole style of "but I'm OK now" that good humor has was missing in Ford. It sort of pissed me off.

Deit Heimley said...

Oh, and I was saying too that as I was writing this I am listening to a "new" Sinead O'Conner CD. It is a compelation CD of her collaborations with other artists. There is a little bit of everything here. I is my new favorite CD of the moment. I have been playing that on a repeat for over a week now. Each song goes somewhere different and her voice changes and style of singing is just so strong. I have to admit I have never been a big fan of Sinead. I thought her stunts and politics sometimes overshadowed her music. This is a CD of just lush music, strong vocals and occationally insightful lyrics. I would definitly give it a recommendation.

Deit Heimley said...

I have too many favorite Sedaris stories. I definitely think he is one of the strongest humor storytellers of our time.

I am disapointed the movie version of Me Talk Pretty One Day got canned. But it got canned because Sedaris had script approval and he and the studio could not agree on a final script so I am sort of happy if it was going to be studio crap.

Kern said...

Wow, I cannot see any parallel between Sedaris and Ford other than the fact that they write short pieces. Beyond that, I can't think of a thing they have in common. I'm sad to see you had a sour Ford experience, especially if you were reading Rock Springs, one of my favorite books ever.

Deit Heimley said...

Yes, sorry. I had just finished reading Dress Your Family in Denim and Cordory when Jed and I exchaged books. I have to say I appreciated Rock Springs, but I didn't love it or think of it as profound like I did when I read Color of Summer (read Renauldo Arrenas [bad spelling of name]). It was good, but my mind was still with Sedaris.

Kern said...

I think part of the reason Rock Springs resonated so deeply with me is that I covered the title story in a night class I really enjoyed, and there is something about Ford's style that really draws me in. I really dig stories that I feel could happen to me.

Deit Heimley said...

That's me and Sedaris. More in Naked than in the more recent books. That's why I so enjoy Sedaris. I just never dropped out of school or did drugs.

And Kern I don't see you as desperate as those characters in Rock Spring. I mean many of those people are just not smart. They are living such desperate lives because they are weaker and less creative than you.

Damfino said...

Deit - you ass. The only connection between Ford and Sedaris was the short story format. What world are you dreaming of where I said Ford was similar?!?! Ford has fictional characters and never really talks about himself.

You are on crack.

Sedaris makes me laugh - and I share in his insecurities... but Ford talks like a poet - his words really dig into my chest... I am not sure how... but he has a mastery of the language... it is beautiful.

Deit Heimley said...

Jed, you implied at the very least that the two had a connection in tone. Don't try to take back your comarison now that Kern has so scolded you!!!

Deit Heimley said...

And where is everyone else? Have we scared them away with this thread??

Damfino said...

I might have compared them because they were 2 of 4 authors that I read that year!!

I would never say they are alike - Sedaris has a small amount of sadness in his work.. a little dread - Ford is swimming in it!!

krysta jo said...

Some of us have nothing scholarly or significant to add to the conversation.

Kern said...

Hmm...nipples.

Discuss.

Damfino said...

I like them quarter size or smaller.

Kern said...

Deit: I didn't think you were referring to me as desparate.

Kern said...

Jed, is that including the aereolae(sp)?

Deit Heimley said...

Oh sure! Backpedal using your latent illiteracy now! Now that I have you cornered!! Yeah! Sure! But you were all "They're the same thing!" last year!

Deit Heimley said...

I like nipples too. Different nipples, but nipples are great. I like big nipples, but not freakish. I have seen some nipples that have frankly scared me.

Damfino said...

Why do guys have nipples?

Kern said...

Jeez, I would have thought a change of topic to nipples would have drawn people to the thread in droves.

Deit Heimley said...

I could tell you, but I'm not sure you want to know.

Deit Heimley said...

So which author do you think has the best nipples?

Kern said...

I enjoy them as well. Not by personal experience, but from the brochures, they look fantastic.

krysta jo said...

brochures?? Alex have you been reading the breast self-exam brochures at the doctor's office again?

Kern said...

Didn't Jenna Jameson become an author recently? I would say she might...

Kern said...

KJ: Bust-ed!

Damfino said...

We have lurkers!

I wish I could lactate!

Deit Heimley said...

Jed, Why do you want to lactate?? From what I have heard it is uncomfortable and a bit of a bother to deal with.

krysta jo said...

Jed you are weird.

Kern said...

Jed wants to emulate those squirting videos he's so fond of renting.

He thinks they are udderly fantastic.

Kern said...

How do you know we have lurkers?

Damfino said...

You were a lurker!

Kern - your udder joke makes me vomitous... but in a cute way.

Lactation is so cool - I would hate soaking my favorite bras... but love making my own sustinence!

Kern said...

Good post, thanks.

Kern said...

So true, so true.

Deit Heimley said...

Jed -- you moronic fool!! You CAN make your own sustenance -- you just have to be flexible enough to catch it!!

Anonymous said...

I THINK YOU ARE ALL EVIL!

FIND THE PATH TO PURITY THROUGH HIS HOLY SAVIOR

Damfino said...

Oh yeah! But that can't be good for you!

Damfino said...

So true... so true.

Why do we keep getting bombarded with this crap?!?

Kern said...

Um, I seriously hope that whoever the anon. poster is, is actually one of us being funny.

Otherwise, whoever it really is, sucks at life.

Kern said...

Good post, thanks.

Damfino said...

BTW, Kern - I mean KJ was the lurker.. sorry.

krysta jo said...

OH my .... now you all have the HOLY SAVIOR after you.

Way to go guys.

Who was a lurker?

Kern said...

That link to the Holy Savior goes to Carrot Top. In case anyone wondered.

Deit Heimley said...

Actually -- that one made me laugh a good little bit.

So true...

Oh, and it's full of protien, so it has to be good for you! It can just taste funny!

Kern said...

Jed was saying you were lurking.

Kern said...

I doubt it could taste any worse than the original Powerbar.

Damfino said...

That leads to a carrot top site. O god... he has images of working at McDonalds!

Why is this promoting on our blog?

Damfino said...

Getting late on the uptake.

KJ was the lurker.

Deit is vile.

Deit Heimley said...

Kern -- what are you talking about it IS the original powerbar!!

Kern said...

Wow, I am really getting bothered by all the crass commercialism that is trying to infect the Damfinoblog?

What's next? Banner ads? Pop Unders?

So true, so true.

Kern said...

I had a NON-original Powerbar for breakfast this morning. It was not too bad. It reminded me I need to do my crunches more often. There is much room for improvement on the body of the Kern.

Damfino said...

I like how you specified the "non-original!" I have been slacking on working out as well - my gut is pure doughy goodness.

krysta jo said...

This is possibly the most interesting thing I do with my day.

Kern said...

Hmm...I don't know if that was a compliment or a razor encrusted insult. Maybe it was both.

Huzzah for ambiguity!

Damfino said...

Cept for the Gilmore viewing!

Deit Heimley said...

KJ -- That's sad. Sort of.

Kern and Jed -- I have long since given up on my belly consisting of anything but a pot of lard. Just waiting for the day when I can go in for my lipo.

krysta jo said...

Diet --- don't make fun of me and my 'sad' life. Please. It makes me cry and then I have to sit in the corner and quietly sing show tunes while hugging my knees to my chest while I recover from the saddness that is my life.

Gilmore was fantastic last night and I so got my friend Sara hooked on it.

Deit Heimley said...

HEY!! How did you know what I did Sunday!!

Deit Heimley said...

Just got my WF state fair tickets!! Jed, did Dan get you a hook up this year? Dan are you going??

krysta jo said...

Aggh I so have to remember to go pick up 10 state fair tickets for my friends.....

Kern said...

Ah the state fair, speaking of tubs of lard...

I like to tell people that my recollection of the Iowa State Fair was that people enjoyed eating things that were either: fried, on a stick, or fried on a stick.

Not that in general there's anything wrong with that, but Christ on a Cracker, some of the people you run into there are just downright creepy.

Of course the Puyallup fair is the same way up here...

And before everyone thinks I am some snotty city bastard, my grandfather has run a concession trailer for 30 years in Indiana, and I have worked the trailer selling popcorn and caramel corn, as well as sno cones.

I'm actually a third generation concessionist, but did most of my stint at the Sierra 3.

krysta jo said...

Despite the fact that people are scary, inappropriately dressed, and downright dirty, the state fair is the best event of the entire year. Where else can you take in the diverse population of Iowa while playing with newborn piglets, viewing the midget donkeys, and eating a guinea grinder? Nowhere and that's what makes it so gosh darn special. I cannot wait, though this year I'll only be able to spend 6 days out of the 10 at the fair and that's a super disappointment. You never know what you'll run into when you turn the corner by the cop shop.

Kern said...

Well, that's another take on it.

I didn't mean any disrespect. I have to say, I did like the livestock part of it. And I'm all for fried food as anyone who knows me knows.

There's just something about a cross section of the populace that attends the event that gives me the creeps. And if it's really hot I get cranky.

Kern said...

I don't remember the midget donkeys, either.

Though I do remember the midgets Jed had chained in the basement...

krysta jo said...

The midget donkeys are quite awesome. They have spikey hair.

It's all about your attitude at the fair. If you go expecting to get hot, get bumped into by extremely obese and half-clothed people, and get cranky, you likely will.

Deit Heimley said...

OK Everybody. I just finished reading this thread from start to finish, as I have with other threads and I think this is one of the best we have had in a long while (aside from the spanking thread which we won't talk about)

We covered every topic from American Pycho to the Iowa State Fair. I mean who would have known there was a connection there!!

And we did it while only half staffed too, so way to go everyone. You all get bonuses.

krysta jo said...

OOo make the check out to Krysta Jo's College Fund.

Thanks for the continued support.

Keep on truckin'.

Kern said...

I think we did awesome. Give yourselves a round of applause everyone, you did great.

I think we started branching out when we took the left turn at Nipple Junction.

Kern said...

By the way, small update. I'm now up to page 11 on my short story. I sent Dan Mastrofski the first nine pages last night and he was really into it. Yes!

Deit Heimley said...

Yes, I think nipples saved the day for us. Let's all give nipples a loving tweak!

WAY TO GO NIPPLES!!!

Deit Heimley said...

Kern -- if you took some of the best threads on this blog and turned them into dialouge somehow you'd have ... well a pretty good Woody Allen script.

Kern said...

Sweet! I love Woody.

Woody Allen, dammit.

Bloody perverts.

Kern said...

I would tweak my nipples, but being in the office it would be considered bad form. Though with as cold as it is in this room right now it wouldn't be hard.

No, it would, actually. Very much so. I mean it wouldn't be difficult.

Yes, that's what I meant.

krysta jo said...

Oh my good lord.

Kern said...

What?

Kern said...

If it helps, I was talking about my nipples.

krysta jo said...

I am just always amazed at where the conversation on this blog goes.

Damfino said...

You guys are a goofy bunch... keep the nips at attention.

Yo

Damfino said...

Filth mongers unite!

Kern said...

Boy are they ever. It's downright arctic in here!!!

Kern said...

I was almost expecting a GROSS KERN. But alas, it was not to be.

I think you have to say something especially bad for one of those.

Damfino said...

Kern - you are such a tease.

Damfino said...

BTW crew - I am out tomorrow - be back on Monday.

KJ - I will be doing some grillin out on Saturday before the flick - you are welcomed to join us (though I know you said you would be away til the flick). Call me cell.

krysta jo said...

It totally has to be bad to get the patented GROSS comment. Gutter Jed is the best at that.

krysta jo said...

Jed - will do. Sis is in ignoring phase again so I may be around.

Damfino said...

Steaks - potatoes - green bean casserole... beer.

All yummy.

krysta jo said...

What time?? I can so bring dessert.

Deit Heimley said...

KJ must have missed on comments on the original powerbar.

krysta jo said...

GROSS DEIT

Damfino said...

7 is the movie - before that.

Later cats - yo

Kern said...

Deit got the patented GROSS comment. Wow. That's like a badge of honor.

Deit Heimley said...

A tear is softly rolling down my cheek KJ. My fingers tremble as I type this. I am just so honored and so filled with joy at achieving an all caps "GROSS." My life now truly is complete!

Thank you Krysta Jo. Thank you.

krysta jo said...

Hey...anything I can do to make your life better.

Kern said...

I've never said anything that earned the gold star of filth. One day...