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The Patrick Melrose Novels: Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, and Mother's Milk (2012)

Tekijä: Edward St. Aubyn

Sarjat: Patrick Melrose (1-4)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
6062336,805 (3.95)32
Follows the life of Patrick Melrose, a member of an upper class English family, through his traumatic childhood with an abusive father, drug addiction, fatherhood, and the possible loss of his family home.
  1. 00
    Alms for Oblivion, Volume 1 (tekijä: Simon Raven) (quartzite)
    quartzite: a series of novels about some less than savory upper class Brits, with clever compelling writing that is simultaneously off-putting and fascinating.

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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 23) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
I normally have no issue with books about unlikeable characters, and was recommended this book because (I think) the recommender knew I love American Psycho and thought this was similar?

The first book in the collection was fine. It had some atrocious shit in it, which like I said I generally kind of like (my favorite author is Cormac McCarthy). It was relatively interesting. I didn't really see what everyone was saying about it being so witty and beautifully written, but eh. I thought maybe the next book would be better.

Damn, was I wrong. Bad News is SO BORING. Page after page about Patrick wanting drugs, looking for drugs, doing drugs. I tried to get through it, but I couldn't. I still don't know where this beautiful prose and wit are, and this is nowhere near in the same ballpark as American Psycho, which I've read twice and would read again.

DNF, but I tried. ( )
  veewren | Jul 12, 2023 |
This is an easy-reading story of 1%-ers behaving badly, and the karma they deserve. I resent a bit that I am expected to believe that 3-year-olds can talk like that. ( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
When I read [Dunbar] last year, I disliked the novel (for various reasons) but really liked the author's style of writing. So what better way to see if other novels work better for me than to grab an omnibus of the first 4 novels in his most recognizable series (there are a total of 5 novels in the series) - especially when the first 3 are his first 3 novels ever (and the other one is his 6th). And I am glad that I did.

The first 3 novels have similar structure - they happen within a very short period (a day for the first and the third, a day and 2 nights for the second). They are just glimpses into the life of the protagonist of the series - Patrick Melrose although we do get caught up on what else happened since the last time we saw him. The whole series is semi-autobiographical - just like his character, St. Aubyn is part of the English upper-class, spent a lot of his childhood in the family house in France and he managed to live in interesting times.

[Never Mind] takes place in France where David and Eleanor Melrose are about to have one of their dinner parties. It is the mid 1960s, Patrick is 5 and as most 5 years olds is fascinated with the garden (and spends as much time as he can there). Both parents are unstable (each in their own way; the father had proven to be outright sadistic when he wants to be) and all of the guests which are preparing for the party have their own dysfunctions. You can almost feel sorry for most of them but somehow the novel manages to be funny, almost hilarious and I found often thinking that someone really deserves whatever happened to them. And as is not unusual, noone seems to like anyone else. Patrick is almost an outsider in this first novel - too young to be really a part of a party (but not too young to be abused - the only regret David shows after that is that he won't be able to talk with anybody about raping his own son - people apparently change the topic if you try to talk about something like that). There is a stark contrast between the abandoned and abused child and the party; between the girl who almost escapes and the trapped Eleanor.

[Bad News] moves 17 years into the future with 22 years old Patrick getting a phone call about the death of his father. The call sends him to New York to collect the ashes and what follows is a 36 hours of drugs (and attempts to score drugs). The unhappy childhood had left its sign and Patrick is addicted to pretty much anything under the Sun (and had become very good of controlling his moods with drugs - until he miscalculates how much heroin and cocaine to take at least). Despite the topic, the novel is funny in that weird way that does not make you laugh all the time but you cannot stop smiling (and laughing at times). Patrick is the center of this novel - and as we mostly stay with him, we don't really get a lot of updates on what happened in the last 17 years besides the basics - his parents divorce, Patrick's addiction.

That back story shows up in full force in [Some Hope] which is almost a mirror of the first novel except that Patrick is now 30 and the party is not thrown by his parents but by Bridget, the girl who almost escaped in the first novel. The boy from the first novel finally tells his story to his best friend - warts and all, after having finally escaped the never ending cycle of the drugs (and replaced them with women and alcohol as one does). Meanwhile the party ends up in an almost comedic farce with the French Ambassador being humiliated by Princess Margaret and a lot of people doing things they should not (and lying about a lot of it). As funny as some of that was, I liked the much subtler humor in the previous novels a lot more.

The three novels together form a cohesive trilogy - and close the loops - at the end Patrick's story is finally revealed and a lot of old demons are exorcised. But then, there is still Eleanor.

And that's who the 4th novel ([Mother's Milk]) deals with. It break the "day in the life" structure and instead shows us 4 months - 4 subsequent Augusts. It is now 2000, Patrick is in his 40, with a wife and children - and trying to make ends meet because somewhere along the line money just ran out. The first 3 parts mirror the trilogy in its narrators in a way - the middle part is told by Patrick, the others have him there as an adjacent element. We are back to France at the start of the novel; the last month will be in New York because somewhere along the line, even the house is lost. And then there is Eleanor - who is in a really bad shape but still manages to make the wrong choices somehow - as she seems to always do (except when she finally divorced anyway). Patrick's life had turned a full circle - from the man who cares only about himself, he how has a family (which he may not always like), a dying mother and sobriety. A lot of the funny moments here don't work if you had not read the first 3 novels - it may appear to be a standalone but it plays on the first novels heavily and some elements are funny only in contrast to the past.

And now I need to find the 5th novel and read the end of the story.

The series won't be for everyone - the mix of brutality and humor can be interesting to take. But the language and style of writing somehow unites the them in a way I did not expect. So read at your own risk but if you ask me, give St. Aubyn a chance to enchant you. ( )
  AnnieMod | Apr 15, 2022 |
A perfect tragicomic specimen, alternating between the shock of child abuse (and other afflictions) and the shock of the author finding humor in the context of such woes. As far as style goes, St. Aubyn writes perfectly. I don’t remember the last time I audibly gasped, giggled involuntarily, hungrily sipped on sentence after blinding sentence of sharp, cerebral, caustic and deeply wise language. The characters are deeply fleshed out, and agonizingly flawed. In spots, I would get lost in the soliloquies, the philosophical inquiries, the endless point of view ping-ponging -- most especially in the last book, which was the least interesting. And yet even so, everything about it was marvelously constructed.
( )
  Gadi_Cohen | Sep 22, 2021 |
Ann Packer recommendation. Acerbic and brilliant. ( )
  wordloversf | Aug 14, 2021 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 23) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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Follows the life of Patrick Melrose, a member of an upper class English family, through his traumatic childhood with an abusive father, drug addiction, fatherhood, and the possible loss of his family home.

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