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Ablutions: Notes for a Novel

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Ablutions: Notes for a Novel Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In a famous but declining Hollywood bar works A Barman. Morbidly amused by the decadent decay of his surroundings, he watches the patrons fall into their nightly oblivion, making notes for his novel. In the hope of uncovering their secrets and motives, he establishes tentative friendships with the cast of variously pathological regulars.

But as his tenure at the bar continues, he begins to serve himself more often than his customers, and the moments he lives outside the bar become more and more painful: he loses his wife, his way, himself. Trapped by his habits and his loneliness, he realizes he will not survive if he doesn't break free. And so he hatches a terrible, necessary plan of escape and his only chance for redemption.

Step into Ablutions and step behind the bar, below rock bottom, and beyond the everyday take on storytelling for a brilliant, new twist on the classic tale of addiction and its consequences.

Review:

"Charles Bukowski's ghost hovers over deWitt's grim first novel about a bartender at a Hollywood watering hole and its down-and-out regulars. The unnamed bartender's observations on his co-workers and customers comprise a good chunk of the novel. There's Simon, the manager, a coke-addled failed actor; Merlin, a freelance life coach in his 70s; the unemployed Curtis, who distributes as tips used electronics from his apartment; Terese and Teri, known as The Teachers, who have slept with all the doormen at the bar; and the former child star for whom oblivion can't come soon enough. The bartender himself is also a lush, and after losing his wife he embarks on a halfhearted cleanup. When this fails to take, he returns to the bar and plans one last ploy to break free of his increasingly onerous existence. The downward spiral is a hellish descent that seems bottomless, and while the character sketches are fascinating in detail, the plotless ramble can make this relatively short novel feel overlong. Fans of Bukowski and the Fantes, however, won't mind." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"A hypnotic cross between Lorrie Moore and Denis Johnson." Seattle Weekly

Review:

"Ablutions is a novel about the deteriorating health of our livers and the malaise of our dreams. Perverse in its humor, but ultimately about our potential for redemption, it's riotously funny and cripplingly sad all at the same time. Patrick DeWitt takes on our diseases and depravity with prose that may yet rescue us from the gutter." Salvador Plascencia

Review:

"Ablutions is funny and precarious, a novel that shifts the ground under the reader's feet, a naked-lightbulb self-examination that doesn't shy from high comedy. DeWitt has a gimlet eye and a dead aim with words." Luc Sante

About the Author

Patrick deWitt is also the author of the Booker shortlisted novel The Sisters Brothers. He was born in 1975 on Vancouver Island in British Columbia and has also lived in California, Washington, and Oregon, where he currently resides with his wife and son. He has worked as a laborer, a clerk, a dishwasher, and a bartender. Ablutions is his first novel.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Tyler Jones, February 17, 2010 (view all comments by Tyler Jones)
"Ablutions" is a sparse elegant novel set mostly in a dark, dim lit Hollywood bar. It mines similar terrority as Bukowski and Denis Johnson without ever feeling like a rehash.

deWitt's dead pan voice is flawlessly maintained throughout the work, making even the worst of circumstances seem normal, ordinary even. Despite the lack of a "hero" we find ourselves cheering on the luckless bartender whose life is slowly (or quickly) coming apart.

There is no plot to speak of, but one is not really necessary. The writing is rendered so beautifully that we don't miss anything in the way of drama or development.

The grim setting and haphazard characters are simply a landscape for deWitt to explore the human condition. His voice is an intelligent counterpoint to the events he describes.

This book is a bretah of fresh air in an otherwise stagnant pool of young "literary" authors. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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(2 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
amichod, June 24, 2009 (view all comments by amichod)
An amazing, torturous, snaking dagger in the eye: "Ablutions" by Patrick deWitt, a slim tale of addiction set in Bukowski's backyard that manages, mindbogglingly, to be patently anti-Bukowskian
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
bitterpeanut, May 17, 2009 (view all comments by bitterpeanut)
This book is about "you". No really, "you" are mentioned on average 10 times a paragraph. I was looking forward to this book but I was greatly disappointed. Wait... You were looking forward to the book but you were greatly disappointed.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780151014989
Subtitle:
Notes for a Novel
Publisher:
Mariner Books
Author:
DeWitt, Patrick
Subject:
General
Subject:
Alcoholics
Subject:
Authorship
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literary
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20100408
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
176
Dimensions:
8 x 5.31 in 0.36 lb

Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Locked Case

Ablutions: Notes for a Novel
0 stars - 0 reviews
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Product details 176 pages Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) - English 9780151014989 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Charles Bukowski's ghost hovers over deWitt's grim first novel about a bartender at a Hollywood watering hole and its down-and-out regulars. The unnamed bartender's observations on his co-workers and customers comprise a good chunk of the novel. There's Simon, the manager, a coke-addled failed actor; Merlin, a freelance life coach in his 70s; the unemployed Curtis, who distributes as tips used electronics from his apartment; Terese and Teri, known as The Teachers, who have slept with all the doormen at the bar; and the former child star for whom oblivion can't come soon enough. The bartender himself is also a lush, and after losing his wife he embarks on a halfhearted cleanup. When this fails to take, he returns to the bar and plans one last ploy to break free of his increasingly onerous existence. The downward spiral is a hellish descent that seems bottomless, and while the character sketches are fascinating in detail, the plotless ramble can make this relatively short novel feel overlong. Fans of Bukowski and the Fantes, however, won't mind." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "A hypnotic cross between Lorrie Moore and Denis Johnson."
"Review" by , "Ablutions is a novel about the deteriorating health of our livers and the malaise of our dreams. Perverse in its humor, but ultimately about our potential for redemption, it's riotously funny and cripplingly sad all at the same time. Patrick DeWitt takes on our diseases and depravity with prose that may yet rescue us from the gutter."
"Review" by , "Ablutions is funny and precarious, a novel that shifts the ground under the reader's feet, a naked-lightbulb self-examination that doesn't shy from high comedy. DeWitt has a gimlet eye and a dead aim with words."
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