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Last Words On 'Psycho'

May 12, 1991

Unlike most people who have an opinion of "American Psycho" by Brett Easton Ellis, I've read it. And unlike the vast majority of those who have read or will read it, I enjoyed it immensely.

We live in a time of constricted thought; an age where the dream has withered and the dreamer is castigated; where the only acceptable art comes from the tiny, dry zone of the politically correct. Do not offend, do not excite, do not anger or entice and, most of all, do not pose unanswerable questions: These are the watchwords of art and literature at the end of our century. No wonder so many flee to the juicy, second-rate enjoyments of pulp culture. At least it's not safe there, at least there one whiffs a bit of risk, a bit of danger.

To dream is everything. To delve unafraid into the wonders and horrors of all that can be is the first and most important job of the artist. To please is secondary; to soothe and comfort, at the very bottom of the list.

"American Psycho" is slashing satire on a Swiftian scale. It's about as misogynist as "A Modest Proposal" is pro-cannibalism.

But in this cowering, accusatory age of special interests and blackmail by boycott, a horrifying, funny myth of who we are becomes a lightning rod for anybody with a gripe.

If Herman Melville had been unfortunate enough to write "Moby Dick" in our time, he'd no doubt have Greenpeace on his case for advocating the slaughter of whales. If the late 20th Century is remembered for anything, perhaps it will be as the Mirthless Age that Missed the Point.

JOHN McNAMARA, SHERMAN OAKS

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