American Psycho At 20: What If Patrick Bateman Were With Us?

Patrick Bateman, 20 years ago.

Patrick Bateman, 20 years ago.

So-called “American psycho” Patrick Bateman, who graduated from Harvard in 1984, would be 50 this year, if he were a person living in the real world; the novel commemorating his romp through New York in the late 1980s and early 1990s turns 20 this year. Anniversaries! So meaningful as a way to measure time, and the aspirations of the writer.

What would Mr. Bateman have been like? Still great-looking: that’s a given. We know that the attention Mr. Bateman paid his appearance, with a punishing morning regime (and, let’s be honest, he’d have gotten a bit of subtle Botox by now), was second only to the attention he paid to his complicated murder schemes.

He’d have kept his bare arms—only when running in the Park, but at all other times shod, still, despite changing trends, in Valentino—buff from the gym. He’d have stayed in his favorite city, New York, spending cocooned years enjoying what he called “all the toys”: the plane, the security detail, the murder dungeon. It’s a bit easy a joke to say he’d have worked at Goldman Sachs. He’d have worked at Goldman Sachs. He would use LinkedIn for business and Craigslist for, er, pleasure, but would find Facebook déclassé.

In an age of sensationalism fatigue, I miss the boost to a young, ambitious writer’s career that Mr. Bateman was able to provide solely by going on a gruesome killing spree in the guise of an alter persona.

Would he have married? It’s impossible to know. He was, after all, a fictional character, and that limits the selection of potential brides. Perhaps he’d have ended up with his contemporary, that ethereal blonde from The Secret History—after, that is, ill-fated liaisons with a Swedish girl detective, and a hip assistant in the New York rock world, and—just perhaps—the title character of a Tina Brown biography. :: @DPD_