Ablutions: Notes for a Novel

Patrick deWitt

Ablutions: Notes for a Novel

In a famous but declining Hollywood bar works A Barman. Morbidly amused by the decadent decay of his surroundings, he watches the patrons fall into their nightly oblivion, making notes for his novel. In the hope of uncovering their secrets and motives, he establishes tentative friendships with the cast of variously pathological regulars. But as his tenure at the bar continues, he begins to serve himself more often than his customers, and the moments he lives outside the bar become more and more painful: he loses his wife, his way, himself. Trapped by his habits and his loneliness, he realizes he will not survive if he doesn't break free. And so he hatches a terrible, necessary plan of escape and his only chance for redemption. 3.9 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
Ablutions: Notes for a Novel

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardback
Pages 176
RRP
Date of Publication February 2009
ISBN 978-0151014989
Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
 

In a famous but declining Hollywood bar works A Barman. Morbidly amused by the decadent decay of his surroundings, he watches the patrons fall into their nightly oblivion, making notes for his novel. In the hope of uncovering their secrets and motives, he establishes tentative friendships with the cast of variously pathological regulars. But as his tenure at the bar continues, he begins to serve himself more often than his customers, and the moments he lives outside the bar become more and more painful: he loses his wife, his way, himself. Trapped by his habits and his loneliness, he realizes he will not survive if he doesn't break free. And so he hatches a terrible, necessary plan of escape and his only chance for redemption.

Read an extract at Times Online

Reviews

The Guardian

Catherine Taylor

DeWitt's matter-of fact ramblings on the out-of-control life of an unnamed bartender working in a seedy Hollywood bar are quite brilliant, if salutary... A brief, intense and carefully sustained piece of writing about the blurry edges of existence, shot though with remarkable lucidity. Warning: Cheers it isn't.

11/04/2009

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The New York Times

Rebecca Barry

The book’s form and slightly unfinished ending could be considered cheating. (Or they could be considered extremely clever, which is what I lean toward.) The biggest risk, however, is that deWitt has written the book in the second person, an often unlikable point of view... But the second-person point of view is also powerful... His character descriptions are brilliant, and he is well versed in the gritty truths of a hard drinker’s life

06/03/2009

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The Financial Times

Melissa McClements

...All this literary experimentation could irritate, but manages not to. Despite his bleak subject matter, de Witt conjures up moments of both painful humour and tender beauty. But his novel requires a strong stomach and the ability to confront the darkest recesses of human desperation.

23/03/2009

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The Observer

Francesca Segal

There are raw, brutal descriptions and a convincingly seedy cast of no-hope regulars... But ultimately there's something missing; although slim, the book suffers from what may well be the natural repetition of life in a fog of whisky and the protagonist so lacks appealing characteristics that empathy is difficult.

19/04/2009

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The Los Angeles Times

George Ducker

"Ablutions" might be fascinating for the uninitiated, but it's less so for anyone who has spent any sustained time trying to forget about last call. The sudden enthusiasms and bone-crushing hangovers: It's a well-worn path. Nevertheless, DeWitt's writing is sharp and bitter and funny, especially in the second half of the book

22/02/2009

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