A Clue to the Exit Paperback – 6 Sep 2001
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"My mind is busy, busy, busy. I just don't see how I'm going to fit dying into my packed schedule." Charlie Fairburn, screenwriter supremo of "Aliens with a Human Heart" has been told he's got six months to live--so he goes through every clue in the book as to how to make it bearable: sells his pink pad in St Tropez, lives it up in grand hotels, beds the beautiful Angelique and lets her gamble away his fortune, tries poverty on a remote bit of the Med, then silence in the desert and tries writing "something honest and complete". His topic is consciousness and the characters in his novel, "On the Train", have just left an Oxford conference on consciousness, and are stuck at Didcot Junction. Among them are the wordy French linguist Jean-Paul, Crystal of New Age enthusiasms and, off-stage in a coma, her husband Peter (all three of them were the main characters in St Aubyn's last novel, On the Edge, shortlisted for the Guardian prize).
Edward St Aubyn is a dazzlingly witty satirist of almost everything. Mostly his writing is outstanding in its comic set-pieces, inventive enquiries, digressions on writing itself, and its quick and unsettling asides. But it's the morphing of the big existential questions into our current obsession with the brain that St Aubyn addresses most satirically--and most concernedly. Somehow, could knowing everything about that bit of grey matter let us squirm out of "the fear in the marrow, the fear of loveless desolation which was laying waste the last months of my (Charlie's) life?". Underneath it lies a deadly serious and terrifically entertaining novel, worthy of admiration and attention. --Ruth Petrie
"Once more, St Aubyn takes us to the very limits of the expressible." -"SpectatorSee all Product description
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Having devoured the 'Patrick Melrose' books (back-to-front starting with 'At Last') I scoured the internet for more from Edward St Aubyn and found 'A Clue To The Exit'.
To say too much would break the spell of his scintillatingly spare prose and storytelling. If you enjoy reflective, stream-of-consciousness writing underpinned by a firm, but almost throw-away, grasp of psychoanalytic concepts then this (and all his other writing) is for you.
As a recently retired psychoanalytic psychotherapist I'm hooked and can't wait for the next Edward St Aubyn title.
"It's a pink house with white gates. At the front there are two palm trees, floodlit, so the burglars don't fall flat on their faces. At the back, four minuscule cypresses, like self-conscious bridesmaids, accompany the concrete driveway to the garage. If you climb on the roof and jump, you can see the sea. Inside there are still-empty niches everywhere, and tiny flights of steps leading from one thing to another. Two steps up to the kitchen, three down to the living area, one onto the patio, two into the garden, and a final glissando of steps back to the entrance area...It's as if the builder had stumbled across the concept of a step and couldn't believe his luck."