Jump to content

Ablutions by Patrick deWitt?


Recommended Posts

Hard on the sibling heels of 'The Sisters Brothers' I turn my vacuous gaze to Patrick deWitt's debut novel 'Ablutions' this coming week. :) My preference is to read all works in chronological order where possible so not sure what awaits? Add that it was his second work not his first that secured such critical acclaim and my interest is truly piqued. Is 'Ablutions' high on any list of memorable reads here on the forum I wonder?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Halfway through. Amongst the spent bottles, fractured lives and cold vomit are sentences that alone make this worth the effort. From ‘Discuss the regulars.They sit in a line like ugly, huddled birds, eyes wet with alcohol.’ to ‘His fingers interlocking like puzzle pieces, a visual aid to some astrological peculiarity.’.......


Link to comment
Share on other sites



‘Ablutions’ by Patrick deWitt is a work of fiction. It is the older and less acclaimed sibling of ‘The Sisters Brothers’.

I like a work that sets out its stall from the outset and this one did. First lines intrigue me more than they should:

Discuss the regulars. The sit in a line like ugly, huddled birds, eyes wet with alcohol.

That worked for me.

This is a well written work to my eye but one that is also unremittingly grim. Spent bottles, fractured lives and diseased livers, such is the detritus you must pick your way through. A second person narrative, it charts the narrator’s descent into a world where alcoholism and madness compete on equal terms. Other characters spiral in to their own dark hole all the while.

The lines between what the main protagonist observes as real and as an illusion fray with time:

The moon is full and low and shadows fall in such a way that you glimpse the silhouette of a man as tall as a single story building. He is leaning against the wall of a convenience store and you see his wide hat and dark clothing and know he could cross the street to your car in two long strides and you think of him following you home and crawling through your front door on his hands and knees.’

Intimacy is debased to furtive fumbles or cold hard commerce. This is skilfully done. It carries all the eroticism of the Krankies swinging on a golf course. (Please note that this is not a golfing reference. :))

It is an edgy ride and one that is difficult to alight from once begun. It is not for the faint hearted. Did I want to get off? Absolutely not!


‘Ablutions’ held me upside down by the ankles until I heard the change in my pockets fall to the ground. 

Recommended? Without a doubt!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...