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Ablutions (2009)

by Patrick deWitt

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3392063,182 (3.45)28
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.
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» See also 28 mentions

English (19)  French (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Would win a 'most candidates for rehab per page' contest. A second-person novelty perhaps, but I liked it. ( )
  Martha_Thayer | Jan 13, 2022 |
There are really great moments throughout, but the level of dysfunction really got to me in the end. Boy, am I glad I've decided to cut back on drinking. ( )
  LibroLindsay | Jun 18, 2021 |
DeWitt’s debut novel is a fascinating – and depressing - slide into addiction and self-loathing. If it is true that DeWitt’s resume of past employment includes six years bartending, that may explain the eerie realism that permeates this story. Told in second person narration, the story is a series of connected vignettes…. random descriptions of people and events being complied as material for a future novel by our narrator. I tend to love this more epistolary style of writing, even if it might not work for all readers.

The descriptions of the dank interior of the bar (think seedy dive bar in the wrong part of town), its flawed staff, the down and out ‘regulars’from teh fringes of society, the senseless acts of violence (and the just 'bad' random sex) coupled with the downward spiral of addiction (both alcohol and narcotics) are all perfect fodder for the dark, biting and off-colour humour DeWitt is known for with his award-winning story [Sisters Brothers]. While the majority of the "story" is focused in the dive bar and neighbourhood of Hollywood, the middle part of the story involves our narrator embarking on a driving journey/adventure that takes him into Arizona. Even though the mission is to “dry out”, our narrator’s tour has its expected results: more bars, more fights and more damage.

One might wonder just what is so fascinating about a book filled with flawed characters, drugs and alcohol? It all comes down to DeWitt’s skill as a writer. Through the vignettes, we get to see our narrator flow through a series of stages: new employee innocence to disenfranchised, light inebriation to a perpetual, hazy insulation by drugs and alcohol. One reviewer has described our narrator perfectly as being ”akin to a medieval idiot saint, wandering through a world of violence and pain with drunken equanimity.”

Overall, a quick and interesting read if you are prepared for the level of personal degradation the characters voluntarily sink into as the story progresses. A tantalizing blend of dark comedy laced with a dash of horrific realism. ( )
  lkernagh | Sep 24, 2018 |
Above-average Bukowski/Guare knockoff, redeemed by its nasty sense of humor and the author's commendable refusal to make his protagonist likeable or his ending uplifting. ( )
  MikeLindgren51 | Aug 7, 2018 |
I didn't find this amusing in any way. Rather, I found the litany of ills and travails of the characters relentlessly sad and depressing.
This surprised me, as I greatly enjoyed both his 'Undermajordomo Minor' and 'The Sisters Brothers'. There was a subtle humor to both of them that I felt came through, unlike 'Ablutions', which I found simply depressing. ( )
  Aula | Apr 4, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick deWittprimary authorall editionscalculated
Aronson, PhilippeTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For my father, Gary deWitt

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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.

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