February 5, 2009

American Psycho, part 2

As a promotion for the movie, you could sign up to receive e-mails "from" Patrick Bateman, supposedly to his therapist. The e-mails follow Bateman's life since the events of the film. In the e-mails, he discusses such developments as his marriage to (and impending divorce settlement with) his former secretary, Jean, his complete adoration of his son, Patrick Jr., and his efforts to triumph over his business rivals. The e-mails also mention or detail interactions with other characters from the novel, including Timothy Price (Bryce in the film version), Evelyn Williams, Luis Carruthers, and Marcus Halberstam. Shudder. I would probably set a filter on any email coming from Patrick Bateman.

Note how the male actors all look vaguely similar. Mistaken identity occurs repeatedly and is important to the plot.

Bateman is extremely jealous of Pierce & Pierce co-worker, Paul Allen (Paul Owen in the novel), who is in charge of "the Fisher account". Allen, on the other hand, thinks Bateman is another P & P associate named Marcus Halberstram. Patrick plays along, and pretends to be Halberstram. Bateman has some reason to hate Allen. He's an a-hole, and look who portrays him:

"Hello Halberstram!"

"Nice tie. How the hell are you?"

(Narration): Allen has mistaken me

for this dickhead named Marcus Halberstram. It seems logical because Marcus also works at P & P, and in fact does the same exact thing I do. He also has a penchant for Valentio suits and Oliver Peoples glasses.

Marcus and I even go to the same barber, although I have a slightly better haircut.

Allen offers his new card.

I decide to even up the score a little bit by showing everyone my new business card.

I pull it out of my gazelleskin wallet (Barney's, $850)

and slap it on the table, waiting for a reaction.

"Whoa," McDermott says, lifting it up, fingering the card, genuinely impressed. "Very nice. Take a look." He hands it to Van Petten.

"It is very cool, Bateman," Van Patten says guardedly, the jealous bastard, "but that's nothing...." He pulls out his wallet and slaps a card next to an ashtray. "Look at this."

A brief spasm of jealousy courses through me when I notice the elegance of the color and the classy type. I clench my fist as Van Patten says, smugly, "Eggshell with Romalian type..." He turns to me. "What do you think?"

"But wait," Price says. "You ain't seen nothin' yet...." He pulls his out of an inside coat pocket and slowly, dramatically turns it over for our inspection and says, "Mine."

"Nice, very nice," I have to admit. "But wait. Let's see Allen's."

Price pulls it out and though he's acting nonchalant, I don't see how he can ignore its subtle off-white coloring, its tasteful thickness. I am unexpectedly depressed that I started this.

"Nice, huh?" Price's tone suggests he realizes I'm jealous.

"Yeah," I say offhandedly, giving Price the card like I don't give a shit, but I'm finding it hard to swallow. (pages 44 and 45)

"Is there something wrong, Patrick? You're sweating."

I find myself walking through the antique district below Fourteenth Street. My watch has stopped so I'm not sure what time it is, but probably ten-thirty or so...The moon, pale and low, hangs just above the tip of the Chrysler Building. Somewhere from over in the West Village the siren from an ambulance screams, the wind picks it up, it echoes then fades.

Steam rises from below the streets, billowing up in tendrils, evaporating. Bags of frozen garbage line the curbs.

The homeless, who symbolically pervade the streets and alleyways of New York City in the novel, are a constant target of cruelty by Patrick and his privileged cronies. Patrick takes it a few steps further.

The bum, a black man, lies in the doorway of an abandoned antique store on Twelth Street on top of an open grate, surrounded by bags of garbage and a shopping cart from Gristede's loaded with what I suppose are personal belonging... (page 128)

"Why don't you get a job?" I ask, the bill still held in my hand but not within the bum's reach. "If you're so hungry, why don't you get a job?"

He breathes in, shivering, between sobs admits, "I lost my job..."

"Why? I ask, genuinely interested. "Were you drinking? Is that why you lost it? Insider trading? Just joking. No, really--were you drinking on the job?"

He hugs himself, between sobs, chokes, "I was fired. I was laid off." His dog, the thing called Gizmo, starts whimpering.

"Get a goddamn job, Al," I say earnestly. "You've got a negative attitude. That's what's stopping you. You've got to get your act together."

"You reek," I tell him. "You reek of...shit." I'm still petting the dog, its eyes wide and wet and grateful. "Do you know that? Goddamnit, Al--look at me and stop crying like some kind of faggot," I shout. My rage builds, subsides, and I close my eyes, bringing my hand up to squeeze the bridge of my nose, then I sigh. "Al...I'm sorry. It's just that...I don't know. I don't have anything in common with you."

"Do you know what a fucking loser you are?" He starts nodding helplessly and I pull out a long, thin knife with a serrated edge and...
(pages 128-130)

"What beautiful skin you have Mr. Bateman. So fine. So smooth."

(Narration): I have all the characteristics of a human being--flesh, blood, skin, hair, but not a single, clear identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust.

Something horrible is happening inside of me, and I don't know why. My nightly bloodlust overflowed into my days. I feel lethal, on the verge of frenzy.

I think my mask of sanity is about to slip.


What's the cause for celebration?

Who's in the bag?

"American Psycho Reinterpreted"

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