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Ablutions Paperback – 7 Jan 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (7 Jan. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847081371
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847081377
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 701,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'An astonishingly original and blackly comic debut novel' - Big Issue
-- Review

'An intense and carefully sustained piece of writing about the blurry edges of existence, shot though with remarkable lucidity' - Guardian -- Review

'DeWitt's hilariously gloomy tale is a sober reminder to stick to the diet tonic water' - Independent -- Review

'His character descriptions are brilliant ... Ablutions has achieved something remarkable - New York Times -- Review

`DeWitt conjures up moments of both painful humour and tender beauty'- Financial Times -- Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

`DeWitt conjures up moments of both painful humour and tender beauty'- Financial Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Dr. Cullen on 22 April 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book. I'd read the Sisters Brothers and liked that one so I decided to get Ablutions. I think I prefer Ablutions out of the two, although both are excellent. This book describes a man's slip into addiction, and the loss of everything he held dear. It IS a portrait of alcohol's power but that's not all this is about. Great characters, lots of humour and pathos, a page-turner and an identifiable protagonist make this well worth reading. If you've ever struggled with the drink then it's all the more identifiable. Like Bukowski at his best this is a humorous look at the low-lifes and has-beens, never forgetting that despite their afflictions they are people just like you. great book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sam Quixote TOP 100 REVIEWER on 8 Nov. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I used to really love boozy, druggy novels when I was a teenager, regularly devouring books by Charles Bukowski, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Hubert Selby Jnr. and Patrick Hamilton where the protagonists were either alcoholics, drug addicts or both. But that was when I was a teenager and my literary tastes have since changed. So I was surprised to find myself drawn into Patrick deWitt's debut novel "Ablutions" which takes place almost entirely in a dismal Hollywood bar filled with deadbeats and human detritus getting sloshed and snorting powder in the dark.

Like most people I came to deWitt after reading his excellent Booker-nominated western "The Sisters Brothers" about a pair of bounty hunters in the old West on the trail of one of their targets. It's an excellent book which I highly recommend and led me to seek out this, his only other published novel (so far). "Ablutions" is a completely different book to "The Sisters Brothers"; where "Sisters" was a fast-paced first person narrative that read like an intelligent thriller, "Ablutions" is without a plot, told in the second person by a consistently drunk narrator, his attention reeling from one character in the bar to another seemingly at random and without any direction.

And yet "Ablutions" is still a hypnotic read. Maybe it's the character portraits of the broken lives that litter the bar. There is a drug- addled manager, an alcoholic former child actor, two slutty drunken school teachers, a wannabe artist and a dealer, as well as corrupt bar owners and the despicable narrator. The setup is that the narrator wants to be a novelist who gets work as a bar back because he feels he will meet a number of interesting people with stories he can exploit by putting them in his novel.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stanley Q Brick on 15 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
This short but compelling novel drips with LA low-life scum. You can almost smell the cigarette smoke, liquor and rank behaviour that drips from the pages.

In an inventive second-person narrative voice, we see the regular drunks and drinkers of a small-time LA bar through the eyes of our bartender. There isn't much to like- but that's kind of the point. It's like peering into an abyss of addiction, inebriation and it's a heady, intoxicating view. deWitt serves up a murky cocktail.

The characters in this novel sink pretty low- there's drug addiction, drug dealing, prostitution, sex, sleaze, violence- you really become mired in their world. But ultimately, you get to leave them behind at the end.

Redolent of Bukowski, 'Ablutions' really lifts up a stone and peers at the darkness, and loneliness of city life whilst peeling away the complexities of addiction. Weakness, freedom, waste, want- they're all here.

Tragic, abhorrent, despicable- and yet, it's an engaging page-turner that I couldn't put down. You will feel like you need a good wash when you've finished.

I will be intrigued to see what Patrick deWitt writes next.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mark Porter on 15 April 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
this debut novel by patrick dewitt (caps lock not working on my kindle, so apologies for lower case throughout) is an altogether different proposition than the excellent `the sisters brothers.` it deals with addiciton and the desperate lies we tell ourselves to justify our behaviour. there are no chapters and really no plot, as such. however, this is still a compelling read. the author is an extremely skilled writer and his prose is inspirational. novels don't have to brim with action and suspense to work. reminds me a little of raymond chandler in mood and the atmosphere is dark and foreboding. the premise being one of degrees of discomfort and despair, leading to logical conclusions for those concerned. this is a novel for people who love to read excellently constructed prose. the story is not the story of this book- the writing is.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 31 Jan. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Discuss Ablutions. You are reading Patrick de Witt's first novel on the strength of his Booker shortlisted Sisters Brothers. You are drawn to the cover; it looks similar to the Sisters Brothers. It isn't.

You find yourself in a bar, somewhere in America. Probably Los Angeles. You aren't quite clear where. You view the world through an alcoholic haze, drinking free Jameson's Irish Whiskey in a bar where few people seem to pay for their drinks. You are pouring the drinks even though, it seems, you are not the barman.

Discuss the customers. They include a child TV star who has fallen for the drink. There's a coke dealer. There are teachers. There's a psychic. There are hookers. Plus there are the doormen, the South African bar manager and a wannabe film director. In fact, it seems you're the only one who has never had ambitions in Hollywood. You're just living for the next drink or the next hit of coke.

Your story is barely coherent. Mostly just fragments and snippets that might fall together into a plot, if only your life actually had a plot. Of course there is some element of continuity, it's just you can't find the direction.

You've got to like second person narration - a device which is irritating at best. You've got to just stick with things, however they go. You've got to appreciate the atmosphere even if the story and characterisation are a bit thin. Then, and only then, are you going to get something from Ablutions. Otherwise you'll find it a depressing, repetitive and dull affair.
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