After finishing this graphic and extremely disturbing novel, I felt quite a bit traumatized and somewhat confused.
I don’t mind detached protagonists that I cannot relate to nor empathise with. In fact one of my favourite books has that type of protagonist (‘1984’ – George Orwell). However, what does grate on me is a mind numbingly repetitive protagonist that dives in to the same sort of spiel during each chapter.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the point that was being made when Bateman would repeatedly go over what brands everyone was wearing; it was in essence portraying the shallowness of society and a loss of empathy. Admittedly it was clever and subtle the way it was done. Yet, after about the fifth time of the same point being made in exactly the same manner, the subtlety as well as the cleverness started to fade rather rapidly.
All throughout, I was desperately trying to find some semblance of an actual plot. Sadly my attempts turned out to be futile – no plot existed for me to find. It could be proposed that Bateman’s downward spiral in insanity and losing his sense of reality was technically the plot.* Then again, this was done right at the end, in a concentrated manner, which then begs the question, ‘where was the plot for the rest of the book’?
Having said that, it was very interesting the way the narrative suddenly briefly switched from first to third person. This accentuated Bateman completely slipping from reality and losing his sense of self.
“I feel I’m moving toward as well as away from something, and anything is possible.”
The chapters jumped about in what can only be described as a disjointed and occasionally incoherent manner. I’ll admit that this could be said to mirror Bateman’s mind – how it slips from reality and often appears confused (which can be seen when he mistakes people’s identities) but this appears to be a tenuous link.
The ambiguity that came towards the end was fascinating. The question of whether he had even committed those crimes arose – something that didn’t even occur to me before. I hadn’t even considered the possibility of Bateman being an unreliable narrator until that moment. Further ambiguity remained regarding his childhood. Even though hints were dropped, no further explanations had been provided.
Additionally, it was amazing to get a proper in depth glimpse of Bateman’s character and inner thoughts towards the end during a conversation with Jean. Actually putting in to words the numbness and detachment he felt was well done.
“Is evil something you are? Or is it something you do?”
The graphic nature of the novel got a bit too much for me to the point where I felt queasy and shaken up. Obviously the title was a dead give away, but still I didn’t expect it to be that disturbing. All I can say is that this book is not for the faint hearted. Some parts of the book also seemed meaningless and rather dull. A prime example is the nine pages (front and back :O ) worth of telephone conversation about dinner reservations that in the end went nowhere.
In conclusion, the point that was being made about society at that time was a thoughtful one. Nevertheless, the book itself was dull and grotesque. I kept alternating between feeling bored and feeling nauseous. The parts that did catch my attention were far and fleeting.
*Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky is a brilliant book that explores moral dilemmas and descending in to the realms of insanity.
P.S. The cannibal arrived late for the party. He was given the cold shoulder.