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Ablutions: Notes for a Novelby Patrick DeWitt
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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.)
"A hypnotic cross between Lorrie Moore and Denis Johnson." Seattle Weekly
"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
"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.
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