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The Grotesque by Patrick McGrath

The Grotesque (1989)

by Patrick McGrath

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
As the title suggests "Grotesque" about sums this dark, disturbing, twisted tale to a tee.

A new butler & housekeeper (sans references), a young couple (one murdered), the Narrator husband due to an "accident" is now a "Grotesque" an "Ontological Vegetable" trapped in his body, and the wife who is in thrall with the new butler.......

For myself, this proved a difficult read, for these are old "mannered" people of country gentry and the narration bespeaks that manner....

It was thrilling and chilling at the same time...the dark foreboding manner made me shiver and I skipped some of the longer seemingly pompous narratives....
( )
  Auntie-Nanuuq | Jan 18, 2016 |
It was. ( )
  JMlibrarian | Mar 3, 2015 |
Failure to adapt = extinction. Fine!!! I’ll seat on the freaking new chairs but that don’t mean I have to like em!!! ( )
  Alfonso809 | Apr 3, 2013 |
Not up to McGrath's usual work, but an enjoyable book none-the-less. The first chapter sets up intense foreboding and import. The creepiness factor is high. I love how throughout the course of the narrative, Sir Hugo keeps telling us that he's a "scientist" and that his empirical sensibility has been tested, but not bested. Even without his spasms of superstition - Unreliable Narrator alert! Still, I can't help but love the guy. Here's what he thinks of the popular press -

"I was much relieved when, after a few days of rabid excitement, they [reporters] lost interest in us, having fresh rubbish with which to titillate their readers. And mass literacy, they tell me, is a boon." p. 64

OMG, what would he say in the face of the media now? Reality TV? The internet? Oy. Poor Hugo.

As much as I love McGrath and savor his books, I can't rate this one very highly in comparison with his others. I kept waiting for the magical moments of madness. None came. Sir Hugo's irascibility and humorous asides were terrific, but sane. And I also kept waiting for the illusion to come down, for Fledge or someone else to come fully into the light and make us realize our assumptions were wrong. Usually in McGrath's books the narrator's unreliability is finally shown in piteously harsh light, but not so in this one. George's death and Fledge's flaunting are interesting and stir up our emotions, but Sir Hugo is helpless and there isn't so much likable about either man to stir pity. Still, it's a rich character study and a voyeuristic look inside a dysfunctional household. ( )
  Bookmarque | Nov 11, 2012 |
I keep wondering why Patrick McGrath is not a more popular author. Of the four books of his I've now read, three of them have simply blown me away.

In The Grotesque, I found all the elements that I truly love in a novel. There are but a few characters, but all are deeply interesting. The setting is a bit spooky. Best of all, though, is that this book is a pyschological thriller with a story that kept me guessing what was to come and spurring me on to turn its pages faster and faster. Even by the story's end, I had much about which to think.

Sir Hugo Coal is a paleontologist who is trying to prove that the dinosaur bones, which he brought back from Africa and has currently set up in his barn, prove that the his specimen is bird-related. However, at this time in his life, he sits in a wheelchair unable to communicate because of an "accident" that lead to his "vegetative" state. Nevertheless, he tells us his story because he wants us to know how evil his butler is. In fact, he is sure that his butler, named Fledge (there's also a neurosurgeon named Walter Dendrite in this book!), had something to do with the disappearance of his daughter Cleo's fiance. Just listen to what he tells us...

Enjoy this book, folks, it's a good one! ( )
  SqueakyChu | Oct 20, 2011 |
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Patrick McGrathprimary authorall editionscalculated
Schuchart, MaxTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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La natura è un tempio ove pilastri viventi emettono talvolta parole confuse. L'uomo la attraversa tra foreste di simboli, che lo osservano con sguardi familiari. CHARLES BAUDELAIRE. Les Fleurs du Mal
Nature is a temple in which living columns sometimes emit confused words. Man approaches it through forests of symbols, which observe him with familiar glances.
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Ho avuto molto tempo libero, negli ultimi mesi, per riflettere sul mio primo incontro con Fledge e sul perchè egli abbia sviluppato nei miei confronti un'antipatia così immediata e intensa.
I have had much leisure in the past months to reflect on my first encounter with Fledge, and why he formed such an immediate and intense antipathy toward me. Butlers, I think, are born, not made...
I do not enter lightly into the foibles and whimsicalities of others, I do not suffer fools gladly, I seem able, in conversation, only to needle or be needled.
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Book description
Something is rotten at Crook, the decaying English manor house that is the setting for McGrath's exuberantly spooky novel. Fledge, the butler, is getting intimate with the mistress. Fledge's wife is getting intimate with the claret. Sidney Giblet, the master's prospective son-in-law, has disappeared. And the master himself - the one-time gentleman naturalist Sir Hugo Coal - is watching it all in a state of helpless fury, since he is paralyzed in a wheelchair, unable to move or speak.

How did Sir Hugo end up as a fuming grotesque? What happened to poor Sidney, whose bones soon turn up in a nearby marsh? And how reliable is Sir Hugo's conviction that the sleek, insinuating Fledge is behind it all?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679776214, Paperback)

This exuberantly spooky novel, in which horror, repressed eroticism, and sulfurous social comedy intertwine like the vines in an overgrown English garden, is now a major motion picture, starring Alan Bates, Sting, and Theresa Russell.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:08 -0400)

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The set-up is macabre: a distinguished paleontologist is brain-damaged and slowly turning into a vegetable. He cannot speak, but narrates an interior monologue of all he sees and hears: a lot of sexual shenanigans and a particularly grisly murder, all centered around "Fledge," the butler, who has ambitions. The stylistic joke is that all these horrors take place in a quaint, genteel English country setting, where the village is "Pock-on-the-Fling," the pub, "The Hodge and Purlet" and the barrister, "Sir Fleckley Tome." However deadly the deed, the language is always decorous and impeccably mannered.… (more)

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