Murder and Serial Killing: American Psycho and our Psycho Society – Part 2


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Before writing about murder, a much more lucrative business, Bret Easton Ellis wrote Less Than Zero, his first novel. This narrative showed the vapid and empty nature of American life.  Since American life is often vapid and empty, I found the book to be the same. The novel was published in 1985 when the author was 21 years old and still in college. It became a bestseller and a movie,

Mr. Ellis wrote a second novel which didn’t sell many copies and by the time American Psycho, his third novel, was published in 1991, he had slipped off the radar screen of American readers.


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a very buff Christian Bale on a movie poster for American Psycho

The negative publicity around American Psycho before it was even published, made it so famous that after being picked up by Vintage Books, a division of the lordly Alfred A Knopf, and published in paperback, it sold zillions of copies and Mr. Ellis became wealthy on the proceeds.

Yet it seems that many people involved in American Psycho became sort of psycho.

In a scary interview, Mr. Ellis said he identified with the serial killer Patrick Bateman, the main character of the novel.

Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman
[Bateman] was crazy the same way [I was]. He did not come out of me sitting down and wanting to write a grand sweeping indictment of yuppie culture. It initiated because my own isolation and alienation at a point in my life. I was living like Patrick Bateman. I was slipping into a consumerist kind of void that was supposed to give me confidence and make me feel good about myself but just made me feel worse and worse and worse about myself.

[Source: Oregon Live.]

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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:

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