Not sure I’ve felt this strongly about Ellen Barkin since she made her debut in the 1930′s.
The Twitter conversation linked to the right brought up some unpleasant memories for me Monday.
I don’t fly very often, for several reasons. First, I’m a driver. I’ve lived in Texas all my life, and we drive everywhere. I’ve taken multiple car trips of over a thousand miles, and thought nothing about it. I prefer to see the landscape when I travel, and it gives me the chance to pull over and see the local sights.
The other, more important reason? I’m a cheap bastard. I never seem to stumble into the kind of airflight deals that have kept William Shatner in the public eye for the last decade. I always seem to get the ones that work out to about $3 a mile.
But I have flown before, on occasion. And when I do, I normally wind up with the kind of travel plans that make it look like I’m trying to evade the government. Leave Tyler, fly to Dallas, go to St. Louis, wait an hour and go to Atlanta, take a night flight to Denver, rush to the other end of the airport to catch my connecting flight to Chicago, which gets me there just in time to do my final leg to Houston.
My plane trips normally take about as long as my car trips, except with more opportunities to eat a room-temperature Cinnabon.
Anyway, when I fly I pack more for the plane than I do for for the trip. I’m always worried about not having something to do on the most boring of travel methods. This all started on a flight when I took two books and finished one quickly, which only left me with one to go for the entire rest of the trip.
That book? Bret Easton Ellis’s “American Psycho.”
Quick background, I read a lot. And I don’t mind disturbing imagery. Or violence. Or sex. In fact, I’m getting a little bit excited just typing all of these words, and wondering to see where they all go.
That book, however, was just way too much. Too much. Too, too much.
Let me explain the book for a moment. It’s the story of Patrick Bateman, an 80′s Yuppie who may or may not be a twisted, horrific serial killer. There was a movie based on the book, where Bateman was played by Christian Bale. The movie was a black comedy, with several very funny moments.
The book had exactly none of those.
American Psycho is told in roughly three parts. The first, which I read during takeoff, deals with establishing Bateman as a Yuppie, and spends chapters detailing his narcissistic ways. We get pages and pages on his shower regimen, and his essay defending the solo work of Phil Collins.
Interestingly enough, no murders at all. The first hundred pages read like a portrait of a really shallow human being.
From there, the middle of the book is about half Yuppie, half killing. We find out Bateman is killing people, mostly homeless people and prostitutes. We think, things are still a bit vague at times.
At this point, some of you may be upset there’s no spoiler alerts in this column. I invite you to go screw yourself, since the book is twenty years old and if you haven’t read it yet, don’t. If you’re one of those people who gets hung up on spoilers, I don’t know what to tell you other than Darth Vader is Luke’s father, Verbal is actually Keyser Soze, and Jesus dies, but gets better.
Anyway, the middle hundred pages of the book get interesting, since that’s more than likely what you picked up the book to read about.
The final hundred, however, are nothing more than play-by-play for a snuff film. Torture and murder, in excruciating detail. With cannibalism, necrophilia, and rape, and involving knives, chainsaws, and in one case, a hamster and a habitrail inserted into a human being into a body part that is certainly not meant to become a hamster habitat.
I wanted to turn away. I needed to just put the book down and save my sanity. However, I had nothing else. I had even gone through the Skymall catalog. Twice.
Faced with the choice of finishing the novel or staring at the bulkhead in front of me for an hour, I went with the former.
Every page was worse than the previous one. It takes a lot to disgust me. I’m a guy. But still, this book did it, and did it again and again until I thought there wasn’t anything worse that could happen, and then turned the page to find out yes, it can get worse.
Just to make matters weirder, Bateman is hallucinating the entire time, making you unsure if the worst thing you’ve ever read actually happened, or if it even matters in terms of the plot.
Not that there’s much plot left. It’s really just a laundry list of perversions and mutilations, all of which may or may not have actually happened as Bateman is telling it.
In the end, you still know nothing, other than you need to go throw up and never, ever trust a stranger again. And that was the only book I had to read for the rest of the flight.
I closed it at least twice, but boredom quickly set in. Nobody ever wants to play twister on those long flights anyway.
So I learned my lesson. Always bring enough literature for the trip, and at least two back ups.
And I bring a sealed plastic bag with me, just in case I run across another book that bad, and I need to protect myself from it. It’s a “Panic Room” in a bag.
– Reid Kerr has since learned Ellis only writes horrible books about deplorable people.