Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sequel to American Psycho?

This is an intriguing story. Bret Easton Ellis has been having a Twitter conversation about the possibility of reprising Patrick Bateman in a sequel to American Psycho.

It's interesting for a number of reasons, the least of which is that the exchange has come on Twitter, which is a medium that leaves this old-fashioned windbag completely cold. How few characters? What's the point?

But anyway, the idea of a sequel to American Psycho is worth considering. The original was a remarkable book. It caught the spirit of its time in extraordinary, callous detail. Patrick Bateman was an amazing character. Could that brio, and that sense of evil (or, perhaps, delusion) be transplanted into the 2010s, an era even more explosively self-serving than the 1980s? And even if it could, should it? Should authors go back?

I think it could work. I think the times are so different from the 1980s that it would inevitably open up new facets of Bateman's character. The possibilities are fascinating.

But actually the thing that intrigues me most about this story is the fact that Ellis is sharing the creative process with potential readers in this way. It offers an interesting insight. How do you write? Are you a plotter or a character-creator? Do you let your characters define your story, or do you have it all worked out in advance?

It's not clear from the Twitter discussions which type Ellis is. He may be simply brainstorming to see if there are sufficient ideas to merit a fuller exploration. Or he may actually be trying to work out the plot turns of his putative work.

I suspect the former. I'd be amazed if any of the ideas mentioned on his Twitter discussion ever made it into the final novel. I reckon this is an author toying with an idea, throwing possibilities in to see how they might work, seeing if his character might bite. That's the way I would do it, anyway. And if I did that, I wouldn't necessarily expect any of that initial brainstorming ever to make it into the final version.

It's an interesting insight into the writing process. If and when the sequel finally appears, I'll be extremely interested to see how much of this Twitter discussion makes the final cut.

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