- The Paris Review: After Bennington, you moved to New York and wrote American Psycho. What was going on in your life, or in your mind, that explains the crazy violence in that book?
- Bret Easton Ellis: American Psycho came out of a place of severe alienation and loneliness and self-loathing. I was pursuing a life—you could call it the Gentlemen’s Quarterly way of living—that I knew was bullshit, and yet I couldn’t seem to help it. American Psycho is a book about becoming the man you feel you have to be, the man who is cool, slick, handsome, effortlessly moving through the world, modeling suits in Esquire, having babes on his arm. It’s about lifestyle being sold as life, a lifestyle that never seemed to include passion, creativity, curiosity, romance, pain. Everything meaningful wiped away in favor of surfaces, in favor of looking good, having money, having six-pack abs, dating the hottest porn star, going to the hottest clubs. On the surface, like Patrick Bateman, I had everything a young man could possibly want to be “happy” and yet I wasn’t. I think Fight Club is about this, too—this idea that men are sold a bill of goods about what they have to be in order to feel good about themselves, or feel important. No one can really live up to these ideals, so there’s an immense amount of dissatisfaction roiling through the collective male psyche. Patrick Bateman is the extreme embodiment of that dissatisfaction. Nothing fulfills him. The more he acquires, the emptier he feels. On a certain level, I was that man, too.
“...and there would always be a distance between us because there were too many shadows everywhere. Had she ever made promises to a faithless reflection in the mirror? Had she ever cried because she hated someone so much? Had she ever craved betrayal to the point where she pushed he crudest fantasies into reality, coming up with sequences that only she and nobody else could read, moving the game as you play it? Could you locate the moment she went dead inside? Does she remember the year it took to become that way? The fades, the dissolves, the rewritten scenes, all the things you wipe away--I now want to explain these things to her but I know I never will, the most important one being: I never liked anyone and I'm afraid of people.”—
— Bret Easton Ellis (Imperial Bedrooms)