The book was first published in March 1991
Bret Easton Ellis already had two nihilistic, pansexual, best-selling novels under his belt - Less Than Zero and The Rules Of Attraction - when he breached the world with his third effort.
At the age of 27, Ellis finished American Psycho, and a cultural landmark was born. Initially set to be published by Simon & Schuster, who eventually parted ways with the project due to "aesthetic differences", the book was then picked up by Vintage Books, who released the book in late March 1991.
Within weeks of it's publication, Ellis received death threats and hate mail in relation to the novel. Dwelling in the most basic urges of the 80's, simultaneously channeling the decade's love for commercialism and lack of depth, Ellis created the unique monster Patrick Bateman, a Wall Street yuppie who may or may not also be a psychopathic serial killer.
Having researched serial killers at the New York Public Library, Ellis wrote the book initially without any of the violent scenes or imagery, leaving them all to the end of his writing process. Talking to The California Chronicle in 2010, Ellis noted: "[Bateman] was crazy the same way [I was]. He did not come out of me sitting down and wanting to write a grand sweeping indictment of yuppie culture. It initiated because of my own isolation and alienation at a point in my life. I was living like Patrick Bateman. I was slipping into a consumerist kind of void that was supposed to give me confidence and make me feel good about myself but just made me feel worse and worse and worse about myself. That is where the tension of American Psycho came from. It wasn't that I was going to make up this serial killer on Wall Street. High concept. Fantastic. It came from a much more personal place, and that's something that I've only been admitting in the last year or so. I was so on the defensive because of the reaction to that book that I wasn't able to talk about it on that level."
Upon it's release, some countries immediately implemented sales restrictions, with Germany, Australia and New Zealand labeling the book R18 - meaning only those over the age of 18 could buy it or take it from the library - and in some cases, even shrink-wrapped the novel so it could not be properly displayed on book shelves.
In Canada, during the trial of serial killer Paul Bernardo, a copy of the book was found at his bedside table, and prosecutors accused the book as representing "a bible" to the killer.
Upon it's release, the novel was blasted with claims of misogyny and sexism, and especially the level of violence aimed towards women. Nine feminist authors, including Gloria Stenham (ironically, the stepmother of Christian Bale, who would later go on to play Patrick Bateman in the movie adaptation), wrote a letter to the head of Vintage Press, stating: "[They] would not have been so quick to buy the spoils of Simon & Schuster if the book's protagonist had dismembered and tortured a black, Jewish or Indian man."
Leading up the movie, both Martin Scorsese and Oliver Stone were considered for director, with Ewan McGregor considered for the lead role. Then Danny Boyle and Leonardo DiCaprio were mooted, before both jumped ship to make The Beach. Eventually, in 2000, when the movie arrived, it was written by Guinevere Turner and directed by Mary Harron, and it too was aimed upon by it's medium's certification governing body, resulting in many cuts to a scene featuring Bateman and two prostitutes - a scene that itself was already lessened in it's violence from the novel's original version of the scene.
In 2002, the direct-to-video American Psycho 2 arrived, starring Mila Kunis, and was universally panned. In 2013, Fox attempted to set up a modern day telling of the story, with Patrick Bateman in his 50s, but eventually the plans were scuppered. That same year, a London stage musical was crowdfunded and produced, with former Doctor Who Matt Smith playing the role of Bateman.
In the quarter century since, Ellis has only released four more novels, and none have received the same attention or infamy as American Psycho. When asked this week by Town And Country Mag how would Bateman fit into 2016, Ellis knew exactly where the modern american psycho would be:
"I think that if I had written the book in the past decade, perhaps Bateman would have been working in Silicon Valley, living in Cupertino with excursions into San Francisco or down to Big Sur to the Post Ranch Inn and palling around with Zuckerberg and dining at the French Laundry, or lunching with Reed Hastings at Manresa in Los Gatos, wearing a Yeezy hoodie and teasing girls on Tinder. Certainly he could also just as easily be a hedge-funder in New York: Patrick Bateman begets Bill Ackman and Daniel Loeb."