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Never Mind by Edward St. Aubyn

Never Mind (1992)

by Edward St. Aubyn

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2971937,787 (3.62)30

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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Exquisite writing and attention to detail. This wouldn't normally be my type of novel, and I don't think I'll be reading more of him, but I think his unflinching honesty deserves 5 stars. ( )
  AuthorGabrielle | May 28, 2017 |
Very well constructed novel, fast read despite the difficulty of language now and then. As concrete as a play really, with the first part introducing all characters and their background before describing the dinner in which they all meet and ending with a short after-supper with all characters separately. Starts off as a satirica society comedy but ends in a rather nasty way, setting the background of the protagonist of the whole series, Patrick. ( )
  stef7sa | Jan 5, 2017 |
What an absolutely appalling book! It is certainly beautifully written, with some of the finest prose I have come across recently, but the characters and the content are simply ghastly. What makes it even worse is the fact that the story is largely true, drawn from the author’s own early life during which he was severely abused (indeed, repeatedly raped) by his father, with tacit complicity, if not direct collusion, from his mother who largely neglected him throughout the rest of his childhood.

The book is the first volume in a series of five recounting various stages in the life of Patrick Metcalfe, an avatar for St Aubyn himself. The action, such as it is, in this first volume all happens within the space of one day, with the focus flitting between a series of characters, none of whom show any vaguely empathetic traits. Even five-year-old Patrick quickly shows himself to be a particularly unpleasant young boy, who takes time to reflect on some of his own bullying behaviour. His parents are steeped in their own respective inadequacies, and devote most of their time to scoring points off each other, or drinking, or (more commonly) both.

The overall impact of the novel is strange – the combination of the horrific content and the enchanting prose has an almost hypnotic effect, though not sufficient to make me want to read any more of the series. We often consider the triumph of style over substance, but despite St Aubyn’s best efforts it lost out here, with disastrous effect. My first reaction upon finishing this book was that I felt I really needed a shower. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Aug 18, 2016 |
I read a review of this book in The New Yorker and was interested by the part where Patrick Melrose confides in his mother about being raped by his father when he was a child, and she turns around to say
selfishly : "Me too".
Anyway, while reading the review on The New Yorker, I became skeptical about the quality of the read because it was mentioned that Edward St Aubyn hardly read and kept referring to the novels he had studied in secondary school, when interviewed about what books he enjoyed most. An author who hardly reads would not be able to produce work to my taste. Anyway what would have been interesting to find out, was why he was picked by a well-known publisher and why The New Yorker was giving him so much publicity.

The story left certain imprints on my mind: the first and foremost one is how everybody in that aristocratic society seemed to be either on opium, dope or other form of drugs. I wasn't too impressed about the
description of the vast estates owned by the family as the reviewer of the book mentioned in The New Yorker. The story was overall bland. I liked the idea of the first scene where David, Patrick's father is "torturing" the ants with the water hose in his hands. But I think it could have been more striking had the scene been described with better epithets and more energy. The reviewer of the book also mentioned
descriptions such as how Patrick felt as if he entered the gecko's body, during an incident when he was raped. He also mentioned another part of the book where Patrick aspires to play football with the head
of his enemies. These two descriptions are vivid and they definitely prompted me to buy the book, but disappointingly enough, these were the only two vivid, descriptive scenes that were of any consequence in
the book. This is a book that merely tells a story. It has no depth, no attraction, no wandering ideas that would you make you want to stop and mull over a new thought. I was very disappointed. And I would even
be disappointed for anyone to identify such a book in my collection of great works in my library. ( )
  humeirah | Jun 29, 2016 |
Exhaustingly, relentlessly cutting. St. Aubyn is exacting his revenge on his parents and their ilk, by using their own weapons -- words -- with deadly precision.
( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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At half-past seven in the morning, carrying the laundry she had ironed the night before, Yvette came down the drive on her way to the house.
'You'll find in the course of your life,' boomed Nicholas, and then, realizing that he sounded pompous, he put on his funny pompous voice, 'as I have found in the course of mine, that such people, though perhaps destructive and cruel towards those who are closest to them, often possess a vitality that makes others seem dull by comparison.'
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In the deep south of France, Patrick Melrose has the run of his parents' house and magical garden and the company of his vivid imagination. Yet his tyrannical father rules this world with considered cruelty while his mother makes her escape into alcoholism.… (more)

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