'You Should Stop Reading All Those Ted Bundy Biographies'
'American Psycho' - Chapter Three
This chapter seems relatively pointless in regards to the narrative of the book. Oddly, however, I think this is the point. Ellis wants us to sit through the pointless exchanges between Bateman and his associates to establish a real difference between us as readers and the character archetypes that he has given us. Because this chapter is just one big irrelevant exchange about unimportant things. But to Bateman, the topics covered at Harry's (a gentleman's club) are of the utmost importance.
The first thing that struck me in this chapter was the lack of intimacy and concern between Bateman and Price. Earlier in the book we hear from Bateman that "Price is the most interesting person [he knows]" so I was hit with some initial shock when I read that "Price seems nervous and edgy and I have no desire to ask him what's wrong." The concern for his so-called 'friend's' state and well-being is obviously not of great significance to Bateman. Later on, we learn the aspects of his life that do carry some significance, and it is somewhat disturbing.
Immediately after this, Bateman goes on to describe what Price is wearing this evening. Again, this description comes with incredible detail and precision, including every single brand that he can name which by this point I assume is every designer brand in circulation. "Canali Milano... Ike Behar... Bill Blass... Brooks Brothers... Valentino Couture." From this, we know that Bateman is far more concerned with what Price is wearing than why Price might be feeling "nervous and edgy." This just adds another layer of cold, unfeeling emptiness to Patrick Bateman. We're becoming quite familiar with this by now.
After describing his own outfit with frightening detail, Bateman introduces us to two of his other Wall Street-ites by the names of David Van Patten and Craig McDermott. One thing I've noticed about the general "scene" depicted in this book is that all of Bateman's colleagues have strong, common names. Along with the aforementioned men sitting in Harry's, we've heard a string of names such as Paul Owen, Luis Carruthers, and Victor Powell. For me, these specific names remove any kind of individuality and uniqueness that these men can have when they work in the industry that they work in. Coupled with the highly popular physical description that I touched upon in my first post, this book just keeps dehumanising the Wall Street stereotype more and more by giving each character so little to define themselves and stand out above any others.
It is at this point that we delve into the first topic of conversation that is held in high regard by these men.
"Hey, Bateman, is it proper to wear tasseled loafers with a business suit or not?"
Bateman responds by letting them know that "the tasseled loafer is traditionally a casual shoe" and "As long as it's either black or cordovan it's okay" but a brown loafer would be "too sporty for a business suit."
Price also chimes in on the matter, reciting that, "It's a very versatile look and it can go with both suits and sport coats. It should be starched for dressy occasions and a collar pin should be worn if it's particularly formal."
Doesn't this all sound like a rehearsed answer to a reader's question in a designer magazine like GQ or something? Like some sort of fashion advice column, right? Yet again, another opportunity to assert his own thoughts and ideas is pawned off due to his desire to fit in with modern consumerism advice. So far, I think the only genuine thing that we've heard from Patrick Bateman came in the first chapter when he uttered under his breath: "I'm a fucking evil psychopath."
Amid a crude and volatile anecdote about one of McDermott's recent sexual partners, Van Patten is constantly asking "Where's dinner?" but to no response. At this point, I think they're so empty that they can't even get it up to answer the only question they ever seem to care about. I hate these guys.
It's at this moment that another half-associate approaches the table, although we're only given one name: Preston. I'm led to believe that Bateman is referring to him by his last name because he has forgotten or didn't care enough to remember his first name.
After some meaningless chatter about the exact same topics that I've covered already, Preston announces that he has a joke. The joke is crude, sexist, and racist, as well as unfunny. While I believe that it is these aspects that make the other men at the table laugh, I think that it's the phrasing and stammering of the joke's delivery that holds a deeper meaning.
Preston begins the joke with some stutters and pauses filled with phrases like "Oh gosh, now what happens?" until "[his] mind's a blank" at the crucial punchline. Preston is really struggling to remember while the other men are poking fun at his mind-block. Preston's efforts to recall the punchline drag on for so long that even I forgot the joke's setup. I had to re-read it so that it made sense to me. Once I did re-read the joke it wasn't funny and it had changed nothing in terms of the atmosphere at the table. The whole exchange really did not matter in the slightest. The interaction between the men was so poor and so broken up by Preston's memory lapse that the "moment" had gone and I simply wasn't interested anymore. I think this exchange was a metaphor for the entire evening spent at Harry's; none of what was talked about mattered in the slightest by the end. Nothing had changed.
After the other men laugh, Bateman pipes up claiming that "It's not funny. It's racist." Preston responds to this saying, "You should stop reading all those Ted Bundy biographies." This is not commented on any further but now we know what Bateman spends some of his time doing. One of his acts of indulgence is reading about the life of one of the most famous serial killers in history. Perhaps this holds some significance to Bateman in particular. Maybe Bateman is a serial killer.
That'd be fucking weird, wouldn't it?