The transgressive novel, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis received conflicting views from audiences and critics when first released in 1991 and continues to spark debate amongst academics as to whether it should be considered an artistic postmodern text or misogynist novel that celebrates violence against women. The narrative features a first-person perspective and focuses on the double life of Wall Street yuppie, Patrick Bateman, an investment banker by day and gruesome serial killer by night.
Author, Bret Easton Ellis came to prominence in the 1980s for his transgressive and post-punk style of writing, known today as ‘blank generation fiction’. The blank fiction genre focused on subversive youth who indulged or participated in crime, alcohol, sex, violence, and drugs, often struggling to come to terms with their own identities amidst a burgeoning consumerist America (Annesley 1998). The genre utilised satirical elements, black humour, dull and minimalistic prose, to best represent the raw and gritty nature of current life.
Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in the 2000 film adaptation of ‘American Psycho’ © Alamy
It would be safe to say that I have been immersed into the magical world of children's books since starting an internship at Ford Street Publishing. This Australian independent publishing house has published over 150 titles to date, and is known for its high quality publications and diverse collection of children's and young adult books. When I think about what my favourite books were as a child –Pony Tails, The Rainbow Fish, The Tale of Petter Rabbit, The Wind in the Willows, and basically anything by Graeme Base – there seems to be a reoccurring theme throughout – that they all encompass animals in some way.
Animals in literature play a crucial role in expressing common themes throughout the story, and can even create an emotional distance for the reader which enables a story to focus on subject matter that may be too personal or confronting. From the more recent novels, A Dog’s Way Home and A Dog’s Purpose to the much older tales of Moby Dick and Black Beauty, it is clear that the animal genre can capture the imagination of not only a child but also an adult. In saying that, let me introduce you to five more favourite fables for middle-grade readers.
I’ve always wanted to know how academics come to a decision about their research topic? I can only presume their topic has to be something that interests them enough to want to dedicate several months, or even years, to working on. So, what interested me? What would keep me entertained for the next year when undertaking my own 10,000 word creative thesis?
My topic had to revolve around any form of literature (to align with my postgraduate writing and literature degree) so I scanned the book spines on my shelf and pulled out a few that I had remembered intrigued me upon reading them. After umming and ahing between a selection of five texts, I cut them down to two final novels, Goethe’s Faust (1829) and Ellis’s Less Than Zero (1985). Feeling up for a wild challenge, I decided to stick with Ellis’s text and delve into drugs, sex, and violence – theoretically that is.
Writer, Tama Janowitz and Andy Warhol at the Slaves of New York Book Party at Petaluma, 1986. PHOTO: ©PATRICK McMULLAN.
Now you may say that that is just a lazy excuse for someone who can't commit, but being the overbearing organiser and life planner that I am, I knew 'going with the flow' would pose a challenge. It didn’t mean I'd let each day pass by without achieving any of my set goals, instead it was more about letting go of the negativity, rejection or hardships associated with something I had set my mind too, essentially pushing me to move on quicker. When I was unsuccessful at a job interview, I accepted it then and there and moved on to the next job application. When a relationship ended and nothing more could be done, I moved on knowing that the unpredicted flow of life would probably see me forming new bonds with others and creating new friendships, which it did. Instead of dwelling on the outcome of a situation I knocked down my perfectionist barriers and succumbed to the universe’s uncertain flow. And it was the best thing I did!
CREDIT: COURTESY OF PARAMOUNT
Considered to be one of the 20th century's finest novels, Silence, is the story of two Jesuit priests who travel to Japan during the kakure kirishitan period to investigate the whereabouts of their previous mentor. Acclaimed director, Martin Scorsese adapted the novel to film in 2016.