Murder and Serial Killing: American Psycho and our Psycho Society – Part 1

 

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cover photo of An American Psycho

Just a few months before  publisher Simon and Schuster was about to ship copies of the novel with a murder a chapter, An American Psycho, to bookstores, they were confronted with very negative articles and reviews based on pre-publication galley proofs sent to the press. Gory. Misogynist. etc.  Yes, it was, at least that is what a synopsis of the novel said. I never read it since it isn’t the kind of thing I read.

However, based on the negative publicity about the protagonist being a serial killer of women, lots of high-minded people went ballistic. Many said the novel was gratuitously bloody and reflected a hatred of women. Duh.

While the book was published more than twenty-five ago, a war against women and their basic rights as citizens has been occurring and continues to occur in the modern and educated societies West including the US, the EU, Russia and many unenlightened countries throughout the world. The way radical Islam treats women is horrifying although they are not the only religion to do so.

It is ludicrous in the extreme to claim this isn’t so when each day yet another state legislature tries to ban abortion or make rules so complex that abortion is all but impossible.

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Patrick Bateman as the serial killer 

Many female editors at the publishing house of Simon and Schuster, which initially acquired the rights to publish for the then not-yet-completed manuscript of American Psycho, were particularly incensed. I understand their outrage. Yet it seems hypocritical given the trash issued each year by every publishing house in America and everywhere else. In a free society you don’t accomplish anything by trying to censor something, you only make it more popular.

Mr. Ellis, author of Less Than Zero a bestseller which was made into a movie, is a very good writer yet the moment the grisly nature of the manuscript became known, he was vilified by lots of people, including his own publisher, who quickly dropped the manuscript.

The publisher was shocked, shocked, to learn that unknown to anyone (except the half-dozen or so members of the firm’s editorial committee, which would have included the most senior editors of the firm including the executive editor and managing editor), their firm had purchased such a tawdry manuscript and had contemplated publishing it. How could such a thing have happened — especially in a publishing firm whose business is buying manuscripts from authors in order to publish them.!!! It’s a mystery.

According to the following article from 18 November 1990

New York Times: A Twice Sold Tale

Simon and Schuster already had bought, edited and was several months from shipping the book to bookstores around the country when pre-publication reviews in several magazines slammed the book for being so gory.

According to the Times, Ellis got to keep his $300,000 advance Simon & Schuster had paid him. Even better for him, his agent sold the manuscript to Vintage Book for a what was thought to be a larger sum of money. The publicity from all of this ensured that American Psycho would be a bestseller which it was.

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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