"I'm a satirist. What does that mean? I'm angry with the world. That's what satirists are, and so I write these novels in order to criticize the culture and all that I loathe about it. I did that for many years. By the time this book came around, there wasn't anything to satirize. Basically, it was a ghost story, and there were things in it that were personal. There's always a part of me that's going to satirize the suburbs and modern parenting. But overall, I didn't feel that sense of self-righteous anger that spurred me to write American Psycho and Glamorama ."
I found interesting, I said, the way in which the narrator was always trying to understand how reality is constructed. "He becomes," I suggested, "an epistemological wonder boy, but a lost wonder boy. He seems too to be filled with more feeling than he knows what to do with."
"Well, isn't everybody? If you're a writer, if you're an artist of any kind, you have to be open and vulnerable and feel everything. Even when I was into writing deadpan, minimalist prose, or when I was channeling the voice of Patrick Bateman, behind that was a lot of emotion. Obviously, I was upset with something and that was my way of expressing it. But it changes as you get older. You want to be more open. This is probably the most honestly written, in terms of prose style, of all my books. All the other books are experimental by comparison. I don't know."
"Critics and readers, through one book after another, demonized you, and yet they bought the books. It was as if book buyers said, 'Ellis is a pig. I long to read what the pig's written now.' There's something insulting about that."
"I think it happened with the first book. I know I was demonized with the third book. But even with the first book, I didn't recognize the Bret Ellis that was portrayed in the media. That didn't seem like me. I think people thought I was from, like, Beverly Hills or Bel Air, which I wasn't. I was from Sherman Oaks. Much more of an upper-middle-class kid than a rich kid like most of my classmates who I was writing about in Less Than Zero.
"I think what happens is when you become famous you die and the famous persona takes over. No one knows you. I mean, you're not going to meet every single person who's read your books and tell them, 'Look, this is what I'm about. This is what I'm like.'"
"Don't you think it's interesting that in the last decade or so that so-called reviewers, so-called critics more often review the author's 'real life' rather than the text itself?"
"I've noticed that a lot in the reviews that I've received over the past 10 to 15 years. I am never bothered by reviews. I'm not bothered by bad reviews; good reviews don't necessarily throw me -- they're nice. What does bother me is exactly what you're talking about -- when that starts to sneak into a review and starts to announce itself, you do get upset."
"Because it's not about the product but, rather, the producer."
"Yes, exactly, and it should be only about that. Believe me, we're probably seeing the best of the bunch when we see people actually writing book reviews. At least these people are trying to grapple with stuff. Most of the time they have read the book. But, maybe not. I don't know.
"My whole career I've been a victim of being criticized for my subject matter. But I gotta tell you, also, quite honestly, it doesn't play any part in the creative process. So, I don't know how much weight I should give any of it. That's what I've always felt about reviews. That's what I've always felt about reactions. And even readers. I read all the reviews I get, I'm always interested in what reviewers have to say, regardless of whether I agree with them or not, and I love meeting readers at book signings. But overall, none of that has anything to do with why you're writing a book.
"Since it's not part of the creative process it is difficult to have to think about why people are writing certain things about you or why people have this idea about you that's not true. It's like, 'Well, okay, I've got so many other things in life that are important and urgent, and things could be much worse.' So, I don't know. I'm not the kind of writer that sits around and thinks about it.
"I think you can tell that from Lunar Park. I don't seem particularly concerned about any of that stuff. But what you bring up is interesting. I just don't know if I have an answer for it."
"When Simon & Schuster decided not to publish American Psycho, did they tell you or did they tell your agent?"
"My agent. My editor was in close contact with me during this process. He kept reassuring me that it was not going to happen. There was no way it was going to happen. My agent called and said, 'I think it is going to happen.' Then it did happen. It was a rough, weird week that I remember very well."
"You were still just a kid."
"I was. I was 25. I was 26 when the book was published. I was a kid. I didn't think I was a kid then, but I look back now -- that's a kid.
"The publishing house itself did not make the decision; it was the corporation that owned the publishing house. That was the problem. And Dick Snider, who was editor-in-chief at Simon & Schuster at that time, would never have cancelled that book. It was done from higher up. It was a defining moment in my career...the defining moment in other people's idea of my career."
"I don't think it is the defining moment for you."