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The Complete Patrick Melrose Novels: Never…

The Complete Patrick Melrose Novels: Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope,…

by Edward St. Aubyn

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    A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (vwinsloe)
    vwinsloe: Another book about child abuse, although this one is also about substance abuse.

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This collection makes for a very guilty pleasure - but not because it's bad. Rather, St Aubyn ruminates on serious subjects like child abuse and drug addiction, then plays them for laughs a few paragraphs later. Similarly, the more grotesque the characters, the more likeable they can seem - with even the despicable David maintaining a hold over the reader long after he departs. The writing is often very funny, but my favourite passage was the start of Mother's Milk, which provided a hyper-eloquent baby's beautiful account of being born. The tone across the collection veers rather wildly from seriousness to farce, but I'd heartily recommend it - it may be a five-book bundle, but at fewer than 900 pages it's not too forbidding. ( )
  alexrichman | Sep 14, 2015 |
Having read these novels over a 3 week period, and not as they were published my reaction might be different to those of other readers. Whilst I enjoyed the series, two books really stand out; the second "Bad News" and the fourth, "Mothers Milk". Its not difficult to see why Mothers Milk was nominated for a Booker - its easily the most literary of the quintet, and is the best able to stand on its own, with limited previous knowledge of the series needed. The first book, "Never Mind" is probably the funniest, even though something very shocking happens in it. It is the nearest to both Waugh and Wodehouse in style; i mention this because reviewers seem obsessed with comparing St Aubyn with these two authors; in my mind there is precious little comparison to be had - the nearest comparison I think of is to John Lanchester's The Debt to Pleasure.

The third and fifth books "Some Hope" and "At Last" are ultimately forgettable, attempts to wrap up the trilogy and then the quintet. In Some Hope St Aubyn seems to spend a lot of time lampooning Princess Margaret, for reasons unknown. In At Last he seems determined to see most of the major characters into their graves, in case he should have to write of them again

But its "Bad News" that is the work of genius. The young drug addicted Patrick Melrose spends a weekend in New York attempting to descend into hell and not quite managing it. As a description of the simultaneous thrill, horror and sheer thrawl of advanced drug addiction its a classic. A truly remarkable piece of writing ( )
  Opinionated | Oct 19, 2014 |
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