Joyride-A not so pleasant ride after all

So far this semester we have read some interesting books, but Joyride takes the cake. Jack Ketchum takes you on a ride deep into the mind of no So far this semester we have read some interesting books, but Joyride takes the cake. Jack Ketchum takes you on a ride deep into the mind of not only a psychopath but also his victims.

Most of the time when you read a story that has someone committing a murder we don’t get to learn much about the victim. The detectives or the murderer will reveal a little bit, but that’s it. Jack Ketchum did something that so far I have not seen in a book, and that is to introduce us the thoughts and dreams of the victim right before they died. He took the adage that your life will flash before your eyes and made it real. In doing this, it causes us to feel more for the victim and even connect with them. There were a few cases where I could identify with the person on the receiving end of Wayne’s (psychopath/murderer) rage. If we can sympathize with the poor soul, who is about to die then their death has more of an impact on us as the reader. As I was finishing the story, I had to make sure to watch something funny, so I could clear my mind and not have to worry about the possibility of messed up dreams.

Teachers and writers warn us that when we write our stories to be careful switching between too many points of view with the characters. This is understandable because a story can become muddy or jumbled with too many voices trying to be the focus. In the beginning, I was a tad confused as to whose head we were in, but once I recognized the thought process of each character, the story became a breeze. I would have stayed a little longer in each person’s voice before I started to blend them to give the reader enough time to figure out who was talking.

This story was a fast read. There was a conflict right at the very beginning when Wayne and his girl Susan fought after he tried to choke her during sex. After Susan storms off and leaves Wayne in the woods, I wondered what was next. The set up was of course for Wayne to watch Carole and her boyfriend Lee murder her ex-husband. At that moment, we got a real taste for how far gone Wayne was. His obsession with Carole and Lee keeps the moment of the story going. Wayne was the force that drove the story forward and kept the middle of the story from hitting that dreaded lull all writers fear. There was so much going on that you wanted to keep turning the page up until almost the very end. The story lost its momentum after the police rescued Carole from Wayne’s house. But, it was necessary because the joyride was over and it was time to tie up loose ends and close the story.

In most books I’ve read the cop is happy that they found the person committing the crimes. I have not come across many books where the detective thought that he was like the killer. This story was different in the end. Detective Rule has finally come full circle with his inner demons. His wife left him because he was never there. He goes so far to say to his psychiatrist that he and Wayne are just alike in that they destroy things. But, his psychiatrist points out that Rule tries to stop what is terrible and protects what is good through whatever means necessary and that separates him from the monsters in the world.


Seven is one of my most favorite physiological thrillers ever. I remember when I first watched it, for lack of a better term, how freaked out I was. I sat there thinking about how anybody could do something like this to another person. Did John Doe believe he was better than the people he tortured and killed?

First of all, I love the differences between Somerset and Mills. Mills comes off as this hard-hitting detective, and he doesn’t take no for an answer. He is brash and tends to bend the rules, but his heart is in the right place. He wants to make a difference, and he thinks he can. A prime example of this occurring was after John Doe shot at them and almost kills Mills. They return to John Doe’s apartment and Mills breaks down the door. Now they did not have probable cause even to be there. So Mills pays a homeless woman to lie so they can use the evidence they find in John Doe’s apartment. The part at the end of that scene was him telling her to take care of herself and make sure she got something to eat. Mills still has a dream that what he does matters and he can take on the forces of evil.

Then there’s Somerset. He is at the end of his career. But, he can see what will happen to Mills if he stays in the inner city and takes on this case. Somerset is a thinker. He gets inside the head of the killer, but he has no delusion that what he does doesn’t make as big of a difference as what Mills wants. Without the help of Somerset Mills would not have solved the case. I think if Somerset had washed his hands of the whole thing, Mills would have been killed by John Doe.

Now, let’s look at John Doe. John Doe is an interesting character. He believes what he is doing is right and that it will make a difference. John Doe almost comes off having a messiah complex. This is evident by the sparse living quarters and all the red crosses around his apartment. He even goes so far as to admit that he has sinned when he envies what Mills has. There is some part of John Doe that wants to know what it is like to be normal and not the person delivering a message to the world. But, John Doe can’t. He does not think like everyone else or even acts like what we would consider an average person. John Doe can emulate an ordinary person, but he can never be an average everyday person. There is a disconnect somewhere in his mind that makes it impossible.

These three characters are so diverse that when they come together the dynamic is enormous. It’s like playing a game of chess. Somerset is ever the calm and collective person in this movie. He is what keeps Mills in check until the very end. In some ways, Somerset is just as calculating as John Doe. Somerset is the one who sees the connection with the seven deadly sins. He is the one who finds the information that helps Mills to understand John Doe. If this had just been Somerset versus John Doe, it would have been a very different movie. The question would be who would win and who would be dead at the end.

I think the way these characters interacted drove the plot of this movie forward. There was a conflict between the detectives and then them against the killer. This cat and mouse game had a gruesome ending. John Doe played this game like a finely tuned fiddle. He was always one step ahead of the detectives. I don’t think that the movie would have worked if Mills had not killed John Doe at the end. There would have been a bit of a let down if there was not that one thing to push Mills over the edge. When Mills finds out that his wife has been murdered along with their unborn child, it is checkmate. Mills cannot process he cannot believe that the world he is trying to make better could have this happen.

This movie is one for the books. It has compelling characters that are believable, and I think that is what makes this movie so scary. There are people out there that are just like Mills and Somerset trying to fight the good fight. Then there are people just like John Doe out there working to deliver what they believe is a message through the cruelest way possible.

Taxi Drive-Movie

This week we watched the movie Taxi Driver. I found this movie to be engaging in the way it followed Travis Bickle’s descent into becoming a psychopath.

He starts as an everyday sort of guy. He’s a bit of a wise ass, but that is just a coping mechanism for him. Deep down he is trouble by whatever he did in the military. This leads him to work strange hours and even take a job driving a taxi during the night shift. I think that in reality, his descent started long before he ever sees Betsy.

So, what is next for a guy like Travis? He happens to be sitting outside just people watching and here comes Betsy. Travis is instantly attracted to her, but instead of going through the usual ritual of talking to a girl he stalks her. How creepy is it that he sits outside his cab drinking a coke just watching her. I am sorry, but if a guy did that and it bothered me, I sure wouldn’t turn around and go out with him. Yet, that is what Betsy does.

In a way, I felt bad for Travis. The guy is clueless about how to interact with people. He almost badgers her into going out for coffee and then somehow, he can convince her to go on a date. The date, of course, is a disaster because he takes her to a porn film. I don’t know if I find that believable.

After she rejects him, Travis is on a downward spiral into his living hell. I can see where someone would be down after that. He meets Iris who ran away from home and is being pimped out. Now, he seems to attach himself to her. Trying to save her. While I think this is noble, it made me wonder if Iris just wasn’t a surrogate for Betsy? Not in a sexual way more that she was something that should have been left pure and innocent like he saw Betsy, an angel.

I felt like the movie after his involvement with Iris is a bit far-fetched. It was like being on an acid trip that he after the scum that he thought should be removed from the city. But in doing so, he became like them. He killed people and was hailed a hero. In reality, I just don’t see how this is possible. There is something wrong with this man, and yet they don’t see it.

The movie was just a jumble to me, but I think that worked in a way. It allowed us to be so far inside Travis’s head that we were able to experience the world as he saw it. There was very little good and what little good he found he tried to protect it. While I find that noble the way he did it was wrong.

Taxi Driver was interesting, and the characters were brilliantly written. Even though they were from different walks of life, they were all connected. The descent into his madness could have been handled better. Overall, it wasn’t a bad movie. Just not my cup of tea.

Helter Skelter aka The Family

I will say that I am an avid reader and I will read almost anything I can get my hands on. This week we read Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry. What a freaky and trippy ride this book was. I don’t mean trippy in the sense of using narcotics. It is more of the mind-blowing aspect of how people who crave a sense of belonging can be persuaded to do such horrible things.
I have come across a few books that may send chills down my spine when reading what the characters have done but this sensation passes and rarely occurs again for me. With this book that was not the case. The fact that these are actual people who committed such horrible acts against another living human being blew my mind. I will note here that I listened to the audio version of this book and I still wonder how the narrator was able to sit and read this book aloud. Did he have to pause as many times as the people who sat on the grand jury when they heard the testimony of those involved?
As I sit here and write this blog piece, I am still in a sort of shock as to what happened and how the people involved acted and responded to everything they did. I had to take breaks because of some of the things they did hit too close to home for me. The biggest one was what they did to Sharon Tate and how the killers had wanted to cut out her baby. That one bit there appalled me the most. Now, most of the time horror is meant to scare us, thrill us, or force us to face our fears along with many other things. This book, however, did none of these things. It retold the facts of actual murders that happened to real people.
We are given an in-depth background on Charles Manson. His life was spent in and out of institutions. Yet he was able to learn how to manipulate people even the doctors who attended to him. Was this a natural ability or more of a learned one? Who knows but once Manson figured this out he started to gather followers. The way these girls and a few guys followed him blindly is scary. There are charismatic people in this world, but from the recounts of his followers, he was above all that. Their desire to belong made him more than what he was.
So, with all that being said the style of this book was interesting. It was a very factual base novel. There was no embellishment to the story it was a retelling of the facts. Even more interesting was the fact that the prosecuting attorney was our storyteller. There was a detachment to his words, but with this case and his line of work, it is to be expected. He had a distinct and concise way of telling how the investigations were conducted and what evidence was found. Even when he finally introduces himself, it is all facts. There was no emotion from him or even talk about how he loved or hated his career. Just what he discovered and the extra work he had put into the case. Usually, a book like this would be, but it wasn’t. I think the smooth tone of the author coupled with that of the narrator helped to ease a lot of the shock that people were going to receive whether they read the book or listened to the audio.
Overall, this book was chilling. I don’t think this will ever be a book I sit and read again. I am glad that I have it on audio and my kids don’t have access to a paper copy just yet. I still shudder thinking about everything that was revealed.

Misery by Stephen King

This week we read Misery by Stephen King. I usually am not a huge fan of his stories because they seem to take too long building everything to get to the action. With that being said Misery starts differently. King quickly introduced to the characters and the tension starts at the beginning of the story. Which is something I like in a novel.

We meet Paul Sheldon and Annie Wilkes. At first, it seems that Paul has been saved, but the descriptions used are crucial to queuing the reader that this may not be the case. Now, I am not usually a fan of long descriptions especially ones that are the length of a paragraph and only one sentence. I love having descriptions blended into the story. But with that, I think these long description actually work.

Our first introduction to Annie is a prime example. Paul talks about how there is a mouth over his, and it is a woman’s mouth but here is where it gets a little eerie, “…a woman’s mouth in spite of its hard spitless lips, and the wind from this woman’s mouth blew into his own mouth and down his throat…” (King 5). So we get this image of something not pleasant. Most people associate a woman’s lips being soft and gentle. Here we get the opposite. They are dry and hard, and the air is being forced inside of Paul almost telling us it’s against his will. The description goes on to add to this uncomfortable feeling with his description of her breath “… when the lips were pulled back he smelled his warder for the first time, smelled her on the outrush of fresh breath she had forced into him the way a man might force part of himself into an unwilling woman, a dreadful mixed stench of vanilla cookies and chocolate ice cream and chicken gravy, and peanut butter fudge,” (5).

First people normally associate things like vanilla cookies and chocolate ice cream with things that are sweet and nice, but King took these familiar ideas and made them something that could churn a person’s stomach with the addition of chicken gravy when I read that my stomach did flips. My first thought was how gross to eat all those things so close together that they still lingered in a person’s mouth. My second thought was how disgusting that would be to taste that from someone else’s mouth. I don’t think I would be able to keep down what little was left in my stomach if that was the case. So King did a great job twisting these comforting things into something else.

I have to admit that this next part was a great way to describe Paul’s disgust as Annie forces, even more, of the air from her inside him. King explains the next breath of air as Annie’s limps clamping down and it, “blew down it like the dank suck of wind which follows a fast subway train, pulling sheets of newspaper and candy-wrappers after it…and he thought For Christ’s sakes don’t let any of it out through your nose, but he couldn’t help it and oh that stink, that stink that fucking STINK,” (5). What a way to describe someone trying to save another’s life. Most images of subways are dark, damp, and dirty. The Paul is like don’t let it out, but he can’t help it. If he doesn’t take a breath, she will keep forcing her stink down inside him and infecting him.

Overall, the descriptions in Misery are what I think drove this story forward. They immediate leave a bad taste in the reader’s mouth towards Annie. She because something that we want to run away from but yet we can’t because just like Paul we are made immobile by the pull of the words until the story is done.

The Silence of the Lambs (Movie)

I felt like a kid in a candy store after watching The Silence of the Lambs. I remember watching this movie for the first time when it first came out in 1991. I loved watching a woman be the heroine of the story and face the big bad psychopath who could at times be so darn charming. It still thrills me to sit and watch this movie even though I know what is going to happen. The film follows Clarice Starling as she is finishing up her training to become an FBI field agent. She is literally used as bait to get Dr. Hannibal Lector to talk. It works, but it places her in a dangerous game of cat and mouse.
One of the things I loved about this movie is the fact that Clarice can go toe to toe with Lector. Clarice doesn’t sugar coat her feelings, and I think that is what gives her the ability to combat Lector. Lector who is insightful into the human psyche and can take anything about a person and turn it against them is a formidable foe.

There is a frankness in Clarice’s character that still allows us to know her and see her for who she is. I think that is what attracts Lector to her. I don’t mean sexually, but more of an intellectual way. There is almost a professional respect between the two of them. Clarice does try to trick him with the deal to help find Buffalo Bill, but there is a moment in the film where this amuses Lector.

Anthony Hopkins did a phenomenal job portraying Lector. He said in the interview that he had to play this character just right or he would come off as cartoonish (I am paraphrasing here). I personally don’t think the other actors they had looked at for Lector would have been able to pull this off.

I thought the interview with Jodie Foster was an interesting insight into the actress. She campaigned to have the role when the director was focused on another actress who turned it down. I loved how Jodie took the time think about who Clarice was and bring the character to life. It was clear that she respected Clarice. I think this was crucial for us as the viewer to care about what happens to her.

This may sound odd to say, but the most endearing scenes in the movie is where Clarice goes to see lector in his makeshift cell. I think this scene goes back to the respect she has for him. Clarice knew him for what he was, but there was never a point in the way she presented herself that was false. When advised not to let him inside her head she did it anyway. I think Clarice knew that if she didn’t answer him honestly, he would shut down on her. I don’t know if I could be that brave, but she was able to get past all his games and tricks he used to keep the good detectives and doctors away. She for one knows that he can help her and the information he gave everyone else is false. The fact that she was able to see through his rouse made Clarice a worthy opponent for Lector.

The way the director cut from Buffalo Bill’s house to the other house had me on pins and needles. It was a great way to build the tension in the movie. Building on that scene is where Clarice finds Buffalo Bill. She is just following up on a blind lead and unwittingly enters the killers home. The way Clarice is portrayed in the movie, I think, is very true to the character and is believable how someone would respond. I would be terrified knowing that I was in pursuit of the killer alone with no backup and of course there were no cell phones to send a quick text my boss. She tries to be brave, but you can tell she is scared out of her mind. Yet, Clarice prevails and saves the daughter. Clarice becomes the knight in shining armor to rescue the damsel. I loved the fact that she was able to do it alone with no one else to help her.

This is one of my favorite movies both for horror and just suspenseful drama. I don’t think I will ever tire of watching this movie. I want to go back and watch the other ones now because they are all just so good.

Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

This week we read Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. This is by far one of my favorite horror novels. It ranks up there on my list with America Psycho by Peter Bradford Ellis. There are so many things I loved about this book. The characters where are richly done and unique. That can be hard when there are multiple characters, and some only appear for a page or two. Each word was chosen to invoke an emotion or set off an image in the reader’s mind. If you haven’t listened to this one on audio, I highly recommend that you do.
The book follows the story of Special Agent Will Graham as he purses the Tooth Fairy aka Red Dragon. Now, Graham is not your typical hero. He is almost an anti-hero. He doesn’t want to help with the investigation because he knows it will disrupt his life with Molly and Willy. Throughout the novel, Graham must battle his demons. He killed a man who was trying to kill his daughter and it caused him to question everyone. The incident haunts Graham from the beginning to the end of the novel. The confliction of Graham makes him an intriguing character to follow and also a scary one. He has gone too far down the rabbit hole ever to consider himself normal. As I read, I kept wondering if he was going to snap and go down off the deep end.
I think what makes Graham such a likable character with all his faults is his ability to feel empathy for the victims. He gets to know them on such a personal level that he feels close to them. It’s almost the same way the killer connects with the families. If he can learn about them, then Graham can get inside the head of the psychopath and figure out his next move.
In stark contrast, we have Francis Dollarhyde. Harris sets him up as this evil man, and of course, we want Graham to find him and bring him to justice. But, halfway through the book, we get up close and personal with Dollarhyde. Harris goes into great detail to give us his backstory. Now, most of the time I cannot stand interrupting the story for a massive background dump, but Harris did it in such a way that the story would not work without it. For us to understand Dollarhyde, we had to get to know him. His mother abandoned him because of a cleft pallet. As a mom, I cringed at the thought of someone doing this to an innocent child. It made me wonder if she had accepted him would he have been different? Of course, without his haunted and tragic background, we would not have a story. But, it still makes me wonder.
At first, I cheered when the Grandmother came to “rescue” him from the orphanage. That is until we got a closer look at her. She was downright disconnected from even her own family. There was this holier-than-thou attitude she had, and it made me sick the way she treated him. In giving his backstory, Harris garnered sympathy from the reader. I think it was critical that the reader had some form of Sympathy for Dollarhyde. It’s not that I wanted him to get away. I wanted him punished for the crimes he committed, but I wanted to see him change and stop trying to kill people. He was a weird reversal of the Oedipus Rex complex. But instead of just killing the father to marry the mother. Dollarhyde killed everyone including the women he was trying to connect with.
I would be remised if I did not talk about Hannibal Lector for a few sentences. Even though he was not in the forefront of the story he played a crucial role. Lector’s character is one that leaves us with chills every time he speaks. He is so eloquent and refined until he decides he wants to eat you. He drove the story forward when needed. If it were not for him being consulted in the beginning, then Dollarhyde would not have reached out and set into motion events leading to his downfall.
Overall, this book will not be a bore to read. It is engaging, and I felt like I was walking with the characters trying to solve this puzzle. They thrilled me and sent chills all over my body as I got up close and personal with the killers.

The Sculptor by Gina Fava

The Sculptor by Gina Fava was a fast paced, action packed horror novel. I loved how the pacing never seemed to slow down. There was always something going on in this book to help push the story forward.

The story starts off with Mara Silvestri on a flight to Rome where she is attending business school and intends to spread her father’s ashes on the countryside of his childhood home. As I read the story, it was clear that she knew there was a murderer on the loose and murdering students from her new school. My first thought was why in the world would anyone want to go to a school where a murdered is picking off students one by one. But, if she had not gone, then we would have read a much different story.

There were a lot of characters that wove their way in and out of the story. I think that Fava did a pretty good job keeping the characters clear and giving each one a distinctive personality. She achieved this a couple of different ways. I noticed that each character had their own way of speaking or conveying information, some had specific mannerism, and others were called a unique nickname throughout the story. Take Mara’s best friend, Kristen. Kristen always had a pair of cuticle scissors with her, and she was constantly trimming the split ends from her hair. In contrast, Professor Jack Sugardale was always referred to as Signore Jack, and he called every woman he met, little lady.

I enjoyed all the twist and turns as Mara and Jesse tried to uncover who the Sculptor was. I was glad that the murders were known to us and that it was not someone we had not met yet (this is a spoiler if you haven’t read the story) but, there was the twist at the end that let us know that the real Sculptor was still out there. Fava even leaves more clues at the end of the story without telling us who the mastermind is.

Fava had plenty of light-hearted moments through the story that helped to balance all the gruesome murders, which I felt contributed to keeping the story interesting. I would have liked more tension between Mara and Jesse. I felt their relationship went way to fast. At the beginning of the book Mara is attracted to Jesse, then she can’t stand him, and a few pages later she’s kissing him, but I guess that can happen in real life just probably not centered around a murder or a group of murders. Some of the descriptions used to describe the characters were funny. My favorite line was, “She took hold of his arm, impressed by the sheer bulk of his python-like biceps,” (Fava 62). Yes, this is a cheesy line to me, but it was also funny. As we write we are always told to find new ways to describe something that has been described a million times over.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. I like how it was faced paced, and everything that happened pushed the story forward. The twist and turns were fun to navigate in-between all the grotesque murders.

The Church of Dead Girls by Stephen Doboyns

This week we read The Church of Dead Girls by Stephen Doboyns. It starts off with an in-depth description of what the three murdered girls looked like. It was such a horrific scene to start with, and I was immediately pulled into the story. I wanted to know more about the girls and what lead the murder to do what he did. I thought the story was going to follow the murderer, but it did not. After that chapter ends the story shifts and goes into great detail about the town and its people. I felt completely bored as I was reading through this section but I figured there was a reason for this.

If this weren’t for class, I probably would have put the book down before finishing part one. I was not interested at all in the townspeople and who dates who and slept with who. It became confusing who was who with all the people in the story. It made me wonder if this was done on purpose. I felt like I was in a Stephen King novel with all the setting and details about everyone. But, as the story progressed, I started to see the trail of breadcrumbs forming. Everyone was connected in some way with what they
did or said, and I liked that about the story.

What really interested me the most where Chinhani’s teachings. He was one very intriguing character. I liked how he rocked the boat and made the people think even though they didn’t want to. It was neat to see how uncomfortable he made everyone. He was very imposing in the way he made the younger students think.

Another aspect I thought was different about this story was the fact that everyone’s dirty laundry was aired. If a character had a skeleton in his/her closet, it was spread through the town like wildfire. This happens in any city large or small. Nothing was safe no matter what the character did to hide the truth from everyone. Sometimes its easier to hide what you are and what you did in a much larger place.

Something I felt the author did well was keeping everyone guessing till the very last moment who the murderer was. The narrator was so distant and removed from the story that for a moment I thought he could be the suspect, but I quickly dismissed him as a suspect once he and Sadie found the umbrella while he was walking her home. With that being said the narrator was something else. He was quiet and reserved and kept to himself. What makes me raise eyebrows at him is how he goes and cuts off the left
hand of Donald Malloy. I still don’t wholly trust the narrator. Something seems fishy about him after he decides to sneak into the mortuary to cut off the hand. He gives the impression that in a way he idolized Donald in some way. He goes so far as to say that it teaches him. What could the hand of a murderer teach him? That part gave me chills.

Overall the beginning of the story did not hold my attention. I felt lost and confused as to who was who. But, with that being said at the end of the story the characters became clearer, and there was more focus on the main characters and the rest fell into the shadows. Everyone has tendencies good and bad it’s just a matter if they act on them and this story showed us both sides of human nature.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

This is the second time I have read America Psycho, and I still love this book. The book follows the delusional life of Patrick Bateman. Someone who is supposed to have everything and yet is entirely bored and unsatisfied. I will admit that a lot of this book can and does come across as dull and repetitive. There is a never-ending string of lunches, dinners, the guys drinking at the clubs, doing lots of coke (and I don’t mean the soda), and the obsession with how much their clothing cost and who is wearing what.
First and foremost, this book is written as a satire by an unreliable narrator. Patrick Bateman comes across as knowing everything. He works in a high paying job, and he discusses down to the detail what he has and why. Everyone around him is very superficial from their clothes to the places they go to dinner. The business card scene, I think is the best example of this. Bateman and his friends are sitting around the table discussing woman and drinking. Bateman pulls out his card and the others do the same. They can’t be outdone by each other over a business card. The scene ends with, “I’m still tranced out on Montgomery’s card—the classy coloring, the thickness, the lettering, and the print—and I suddenly raise a fist to strike out at Craig and scream…,” (Ellis 46). Bateman gets upset over a little insignificant piece of paper. The movie does a great job with this scene.
There is a chapter titled End of the 1980s. Here we see Bateman sitting trying to get through another lunch this time with his assistant Jane. As he sits there, he starts to almost reflect on who he is and his life. There is a line that I think sums up his perception of the world, “Reflection is useless, the word is senseless. Evil is its only performance. God is not alive. Love cannot be trusted. Surface, surface, surface was that anyone found meaning in…this was a civilization as I saw it colossal and jagged…” (375). His internal thoughts show that everything he sees and does is superficial and meaningless. Not even love is something he can trust or find faith in. It is all fake to him as is the world he lives in.
I think Bateman works as an unreliable narrator. If this was told by someone who was technically sane, I do not feel it would have pulled me into the story. I would have lost interest and put the book down. He spirals out of control as the story progresses and we see that he is not to be trusted with anything he says. This ties into the idea that the book is really about hell. The opening line in the book is from Dante’s Inferno, “Abandon all hope ye who enters here is scrawled in blood red lettering on the side of the Chemical Bank…,” (3). As we walk into the story, we are taking a trip through hell through the mind of Bateman. This is where I think the book works with all its never-ending repetitive scenes. Even the murder scenes are repetitive imaginations from Bateman’s mind. He keeps reliving them and adding more gruesome ways to murder these people in his head.
Ellis did a great job with this idea that we make our own hell. Bateman could have at any time gotten helped with his issues, but he chose to stay stuck in a rut to keep up appearances. He can’t be viewed as less or different for the others within his inner circle. The book begins and ends with Bateman at yet another lunch with his friends that he cannot escape from. The story fittingly ends with, “above one of the doors covered by red velvet drapes…on the sign, the letters that match the drapes color are the words THIS IS NOT AN EXIT.” Everything begins and ends in blood.