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Ablutions: Notes for a Novel
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About the Author

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

Reviews

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. (Feb.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

PRAISE FOR ABLUTIONS:

"... dark and provocative ... deWitt has painted a portrait of the human condition ... And ABLUTIONS has achieved something remarkable." --The New York Times Book Review

"... deWitt's writing is sharp and bitter and funny ... " --Los Angeles Times
"DeWitt's dirty realism makes me want to roll in the mud with him. Brilliant." --Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan "Viciously hilarious ... deWitt's portrayal of the drinking life is staunchly unromantic." -- Time Out New York (Five stars; Book of the day) "These scenes are stunningly depicted ... deWitt writes beautifully about ugliness, and his book casts a haunting spell." -- Booklist

"DeWitt's style of prose is refreshing and more like real life speak than most books, without losing the necessary descriptiveness to relay the feel and pure nuttiness of the situation inside the Hollywood bar where the scenes are set." -- About.com "Ablutions is like an intense art-house movie, where the lead actor is in every scene but makes the whole thing sparkle with his star power." -- The Oregonian

"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, author of Low Life

"Patrick deWitt's writing is deeply charismatic -- a coiled ramble of note perfect sentences, mysterious and burbling declarative tones, the saddest humor imaginable, and the strange physical proportions of a magician's top hat. I was equally taken aback by the needling brilliance that surfaces at its every turn and riveted by the brains and heart it must have taken to finesse such a clearly broken down yet perfectly clear and penetrating world. I love this novel very much." -- Dennis Cooper "Patrick deWitt is the 21st century poet of Hollywood's desperate souls, the misbegotten, broken, and the lost. He writes with a fierce compassion about people treading the vague boundary between homicide and self-destruction, loveless sex and sexless love, all lined up and looking into our own culturally shared abyss. Beware, beware. But read Ablutions." --Chris Offutt, author of No Heroes: A Memoir of Coming Home

"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, author of The People of Paper PRAISE FOR PATRICK DEWITT "A hypnotic cross between Lorrie Moore and Denis Johnson."--Seattle Weekly

"Something truly fresh, something that gave me a reading experience as shivery and enlivening as I've had in a long time."--Dennis Cooper, author of Closer, The Sluts, and God Jr.

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