August 15, 2009

We're On a Road to Nowhere...

Loving your input so far ladies.  Admittedly, I did read only to the 105 mark, but here's my input thus far:

I agree with Em about the humor--it's one of the funniest books I've ever read, right up there with books like A Confederacy of Dunces.  Yesterday, for example, I was sitting on the quaint front porch of our cabin in Michigan with my mom when I started laughing uncontrollably.  My mom asked what was so funny, and I told her that Bateman had just told some girl at a club that he wanted to cut off her arms and dance in her blood because she can't here.  My mom's reactions was "that's so 80's."  What Ellis does best is take a character known for hyper excess and machismo and take it just that one step further than is even human, which seems to be what makes it so funny.  It's Gordon Gekko with a chainsaw.  The clothing/food descriptions are, yes, tiring to read, but I think they're kind of necessary because the book is set in the first person and that is the only way Bateman processes the world around him.  Also, part of what makes it difficult not to see the book as sexist/racist/homophobic/ageist/overall insulting is because it's in the first person, so it's impossible for us to see Bateman as anything but on top.  I take comfort in the fact that the Talking Heads would hate such a jackass.

I love what Emily said about how everyone always confuses another with one another.  There are several names that keep getting floated around of characters we never meet, we just know that they look a lot like other ancillary characters.  Even when another character confuses Bateman for someone else, he isn't remotely offended and defends the guy's mistake because they work at the same firm and wear the same clothes.  Bateman isn't trying to stand out as the top of his game, he just desperately wants to be part of the game.  

There was this really great moment in one of the many restaurants they visit in the first 100some pages that I thought was really illuminating.  They've just received the NONVINTAGE champaign from the incredibly rich acquaintance ("jackass") of theirs, and one of his friends (is it Price? I'm at work so I can't reference the book, hence the lack of names/specifics in this post- sorry!) and the friend lets drop the amount of money he makes.  It's $190k/year.  Sure that's more money than our wildest dreams, ladies, but for a world in which Manhattan apartments cost millions/year and dinner costs up to $1000 a night, well it's not nearly as much as I expected.  And yes, these men make plenty of dough and all have very fuckable secretaries and do lots of blow, but, except for the ones that have inherited multimillions  (which is a few of them, but definitely not all of them), they're closer to the upper middle class they despise than the true upper crust.  Maybe that's why Bateman tries so hard to be mistaken for other similarly dressed guys.  It's that Tom Cruise image they're going for, even though they can't quite live like him.  (Speaking of, I'd really like everyone's thoughts on the Tom Cruise scene)

I think the Les Miz motif is really funny.  When Price gets pissy about his "hick" clients wanting to see it, he expresses pride that he's seen the original in London, even though they all scoff at it for being populist.  I think I need to read more before I fully grasp at it's meaning, so everyone have at it.  

A note on sexism:  I certainly haven't decided yet whether I think that the book is sexist, but right now I'm leaning toward no.  I don' think Ellis is Bateman, I think Ellis is satirizing Bateman.  Although you have to dig through all the first person self-congratulation to get there, Bateman is ultimately a sucker.  He spends way too much money on products that are generally not worth it, and tries so hard to stay 80s young that he ices his face.  If we knew anyone who did that (or regularly got manicures/facials/fake tans), we'd die laughing at them. I think it's fair to accuse him of being an asshole and he may have inadvertently inspired a few other assholes (I think Tucker Max masturbates to the front cover of American Psycho), but I generally thinks it's wrong to blame an author for a person's reaction to a book.  If you read American Psycho and come out of it thinking it's okay to rape and murder women, then you've misinterpreted it.  

If you want a sexist, look no further than Norman Mailer.  He writes like a beast, but that bitch stabbed his sixth wife at a dinner party...

OK so that was long.  We should pick a date to finish the book by, and then we'll be able to discuss the end and the novel as a whole.  I can go through it pretty quickly.  What do y'all think?

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