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Ablutions by Patrick deWitt

Ablutions (original 2009; edition 2011)

by Patrick deWitt

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2181453,416 (3.51)20
Authors:Patrick deWitt
Info:Granta Books (2011), Kindle Edition, 180 pages
Collections:Your library, Read2012
Tags:Kindle, Nov2012

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Ablutions by Patrick deWitt (2009)


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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Very different, yet very entertaining novel. I don't usually enjoy second person narratives, but in this novel I forgot about the unfamiliar POV after the first page.

As the title suggests, the story reads like character sketches, with little bits about the unnamed narrator ("You") in between. Funny, a little dark, and ugly. Loved it. ( )
  ReneeMiller | Feb 25, 2016 |
My second peter DeWitt book, not as good as sisters brothers, but still rates four stars. This guy is a master at character description, and there are some real characters in this book! ( )
  KathyGilbert | Jan 29, 2016 |
This is a hard book for me to review. I liked it. It's not as spectacular as The Sisters Brothers, but it's riveting nonetheless. Kind of like a trainwreck, it's hard to step away, to not look, to ignore the carnage.

"Trainwreck" in no way describes the writing; deWitt is a great writer, and even though this is a first novel it's not a beginning writer's output. The structure is unusual; at first I didn't "get it," but after a few pages it all started to make sense. I grew to love it. And even though much is in second person (Another book in second person! An epidemic!), it wasn't irritating. Go figure.

Much of this book is "simply" description - of people. Sad people. People who unravel.

The descriptions are good. They're telling.

And that's the trainwreck. This is not a happy book. Nobody is happy. Nobody lives a clean life. They're all low. Broke. Spoiled, and not in the silver spoon manner. They smell, they lose teeth. They drink, too much. They deteriorate.

This is a dark book. A soiled book. I didn't read this and feel lifted up, or hopeful, or glad.

But this is full of people. They felt real, and the bartender felt real, and I swear I once knew a guy just like him.
  ThePortPorts | Jan 10, 2016 |
This is a very good drinking/bar novel, a gush of slapstick pity and despair tracing the career (in both senses of the word) of a drunken barman in L.A. There are no saints, only miserable sinners, and there are only brief and intermittent instants of dignity amidst the depravity. It is, as the title suggests, very episodic, but I've read many texts less worthy of "novel" status than this. The drunkards in this book (which is everyone) are not lovable rogues, but more or less unsatisfactory people (although satisfyingly unique), and as such it's a believable society. There's a serviceable plot, too, which eventually takes wing with a drunken drive to Las Vegas/an unspecified desert town where everyone is even more wasted than back in the bar. A farcical love story occurs, and no one is left any the wiser as to anything, except that drinking is a very bad good idea, and Patrick deWitt is a very bad good writer. ( )
  yarb | Oct 3, 2015 |
This is written in an experimental fashion, supposedly as notes for writing a novel. I got used to the format sooner than I expected and it didn’t annoy me too much.

The story is told from the viewpoint of a person who works in a bar and is an alcoholic. Descriptions of people and events presented as notes for a novel soon build a mosaic of the main characters life, his failed hopes, and the general decline of his wellbeing.

I would not recommend this novel to people of a sensitive or conservative nature. The characters and events are not those generally found in polite society.

De Witt managed to keep me guessing about how the story would play out and he managed to do something that I recall Franz Kafka achieving in his novel The Castle. He had me experiencing the feelings and circumstances of the viewpoint character. At one point in the story the main character has been drinking heavily, he has had some personal hygiene accidents, and experienced some disappointments and letdowns. When I was reading that part of the book I felt grubby, woozy of mind, and could sense the building depression of the character.

The book grew on me as I read it and I do believe de Witt has demonstrated skill by making the reader experience the feelings of the character in the story and keeping the reader guessing as to how things will turn out, but I cannot bring myself to give it a full four stars. It will have to do with three and a half which is still good in my scoring scheme. ( )
1 vote pgmcc | Oct 4, 2014 |
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For my father, Gary deWitt

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0151014981, Hardcover)

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.

Step into Ablutions and step behind the bar, below rock bottom, and beyond the everyday take on storytelling for a brilliant, new twist on the classic tale of addiction and its consequences.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:53 -0400)

Working at a decaying Hollywood bar while making notes for the novel he hopes to write, a bartender is drawn into the alcoholic oblivion that affects his customers, losing his wife, his goals, and himself in the process.

(summary from another edition)

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