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  • Claire Squires
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Abstract

Bret Easton Ellis’s novel American Psycho was published in the UK by Picador in 1991. The subject of the novel, his third after Less Than Zero (1986) and The Rules of Attraction (1988), became infamous. In summary, it catalogues in frequently banal and occasionally lurid detail the life of Patrick Bateman, a Wall Street yuppie whose narrative is packed with the details of designer clothes, modish restaurants, and the torture and dismemberment of his (mostly) female victims.1 Ellis is an American writer, but the publishing history analysed here is principally of the UK publication and reception of his third novel. Nonetheless, it is worth noting the pre-publication trouble that the book ran into in the US. A report from The Times dated 19 November 1990 picked up the story:

A full-scale storm erupted in Manhattan’s literary village last week when Simon and Schuster, the publishers, decided to scrap the book just as it was about to be sent to the shops, on the grounds that it was just too shocking. Writers cried ‘censorship’, denouncing the publishers for caving in to the pressure of Paramount Communications, their new corporate owners […]

With advance publicity like that it took about a microsecond for Ellis to find a new publisher courageous enough to issue the book.2

The Independent on Sunday maintained The Times’s cynical tone in its report the following Sunday:

The end of the American Psycho saga turns out happy for all, depending on your point of view. Its original publisher are now the proud guardians of taste; Mr Mehta [head of Knopf] is the saviour of freedom of expression; and Mr Ellis is even richer.3

Keywords

Publishing History Sunday Time Daily Telegraph Sales Team Book Award 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Bret Easton Ellis, Less Than Zero (London: Picador, 1986; first published in the US in 1985), The Rules of Attraction (London: Picador, 1988; first published in the US in 1987).Google Scholar
  2. 23.
    Interview with Peter Straus. Helen Fielding, Cause Celeb (London: Picador, 1994).Google Scholar
  3. 31.
    Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (London: Picador, 1999).Google Scholar
  4. 36.
    In referring to the ‘New Feminism’, Bennett would seem to be commenting generally on the situation of feminist debate in the late 1990s, but also spedfically to Natasha Walter’s The New Feminism (London: Little, Brown, 1998). In interview, Fielding mentioned her (failed) attempt to write a Mills & Boon novel, see Slater, ‘Poignant, Funny and Truthful’, 15.Google Scholar
  5. 40.
    Mike Gayle, My Legendary Girlfriend (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1998). Jamie Hodder-Williams discussed the label used by Hodder & Stoughton and then taken up by the media. (Interview with Jamie Hodder-Williams.) The Mirror used the strapline ‘Here comes the male Bridget Jones’ in a review of My Legendary Girlfriend, ‘Now on Sale … Round-Up’ on 14 August 1998, 17 (The A List section). The Guardian was more cynical in its comments on the ‘Bestsellers’ on 1 August 1998, discussing ‘The much-hyped Mike Gayle — “the male Bridget Jones” (they wish!)’, 11 (Saturday section).Google Scholar
  6. 41.
    Emma Forrest, ‘Not with a Bang but with a Simper’, Guardian, 31 August 1998, 9 (G2 section). She refers to Isabel Wolff’s The Trials of Tiffany Trott (London: HarperCollins, 1998); Jane Green’s Straight Talking (London: Mandarin, 1997); Kate Morris’s Jemima J — Single Girl’s Diary (London: Penguin, 1998);Google Scholar
  7. and Freya North’s Chloe (London: William Heinemann, 1997).Google Scholar
  8. 47.
    Philip Pullman, ‘Writing Children’s Fiction: or You Cannot Be Serious’, in Barry Turner, ed., The Writer’s Handbook 2000 (London: Macmillan, 1999), 216–18. 217.Google Scholar
  9. 56.
    David Almond, The Fire-Eaters (London: Hodder Children’s, 2003).Google Scholar
  10. 57.
    Mark Haddon, The Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea (London: Picador, 2005); A Spot of Bother (London: Jonathan Cape, 2006).Google Scholar
  11. 59.
    Wendy Parsons and Catriona Nicholson, “Talking to Philip Pullman”: An Interview’, The Lion and the Unicorn 23:1 (January 1999), 116–34, 126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 60.
    Melvin Burgess, Junk; Doing It (London: Andersen, 2003).Google Scholar
  13. 66.
    See Alastair Niven, ‘A Common Wealth of Talent’, Booker 30. A Celebration of the Booker Prize for Fiction. 1969–1998, (London: Booker plc, 1998); 40–2.Google Scholar
  14. 74.
    David Mitchell, Ghostwritten (London: Sceptre, 1999); number9dream (London: Sceptre, 2001).Google Scholar
  15. 75.
    Lawrence Norfolk and Tibor Fischer, eds., New Writing 8 (London: Vintage, 1999).Google Scholar
  16. 83.
    Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty (London: Picador, 2004). One of the judges, Rowan Pelling, described the difficult decision in her article ‘Only After We Went to the Loo Did the Winner Emerge’, Independent on Sunday, 24 October 2004.Google Scholar
  17. 86.
    As announced in Louise Jury and Boyd Tonkin, ‘Does Richard and Judy’s Book Club Guarantee Success for These Ten Titles?’, Independent, 10 December 2004. Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004);Google Scholar
  18. Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife (London: Jonathan Cape, 2004);Google Scholar
  19. Andrew Taylor, The American Boy (London: Flamingo, 2003);Google Scholar
  20. Justin Cartwright, The Promise of Happiness (London: Bloomsbury, 2004);Google Scholar
  21. Karen Joy Fowler, The Jane Austen Book Club (London: Viking, 2004);Google Scholar
  22. William Brodrick, The Sixth Lamentation (London: Time Warner, 2003);Google Scholar
  23. Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2005);Google Scholar
  24. Paula Byrne, Perdita: The Life of Mary Robinson (London: HarperCollins, 2004);Google Scholar
  25. and Chris Heath, Feel (London: Ebury Press, 2004).Google Scholar

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© Claire Squires 2007

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  • Claire Squires

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