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Ablutions by Patrick deWitt

Ablutions (original 2009; edition 2011)

by Patrick deWitt

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1681070,815 (3.35)16
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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English (9)  French (1)  All languages (10)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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. ( )
  pgmcc | Oct 4, 2014 |
The beauty of great literature is the ability of the author to immerse a reader into a life of another person. When that happens, a reader gains insight not only into a life of a protagonist but is able to look at their own life in detail. That is what Patrick deWitt has done brilliantly in his novel Ablutions.

Page 3

DISCUSS THE REGULARS. They site in a line like ugly, huddled birds, eyes wet with alcohol. They whisper into their cups and seem to be gloating about something - you will never know what. some have jobs, children, spouses, cars, and mortgages, while others live with their parents or in transient motels and are on government assistance, a curious balance of classes particular to the parts of Hollywood devoid of klieg lights and make-believe. There are sometimes limousines at the curb out front; other nights feature police cars and ambulances and vicious street scenarios. The bar interior resembles a sunken luxury liner of the early 1900s, mahogany and brass, black-burgundy leather coated in dust and ash. It is impossible to know how many times the ownership has changed hands.

It is a simple device that deWitt using to capture us into the life of his bartender - using the second person. But it works. A reader is absorbed into the mind of this unnamed character and gets to understand him. And making the bartender work in a bar in Hollywood, allows deWitt to make general observations about North-American culture in general. ( )
  steven.buechler | Dec 18, 2013 |
review tk. ( )
  drewsof | Jul 9, 2013 |
In the genre "intelligent alcoholic debases self". Written in the second person. ( )
  annesadleir | Nov 25, 2012 |
This is a pretty good first novel about a bartender with serious substance abuse problems written by an author who says he has worked as a bartender. It’s well written, very witty and often darkly funny. I would recommend you check it out. The New York Times website has the first chapter. ( )
  giovannigf | Aug 13, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:49 -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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