Ablutions – Patrick DeWitt


“He is eager to talk but his conversations are limited to the subjects of alcohol and movies, his obsessions and apparent motives for carrying on.  He drinks double vodka tonics from the well and becomes animated when describing a stunt or special effect from the latest Hollywood blockbuster.  When he insists you see these movies you tell him you do not like the genre and he asks what other kinds there are and you say there are the slow ones and foreign ones and your personal favorites, the sad ones, and he blinks and says that there are two types of people: Those who want to cry, and those who are crying already and want to stop.”

I think this is the first book, since the Choose Your Own Adventure books of my youth, that has been written in the “second person,” that is, addressing the reader as “You.”  It’s incredibly disjointing, especially since, the “you” in Ablutions, is a real piece of shit (you don’t get to choose your way out of this one!).  Though this book wasn’t even over 200 pages, it has taken me the longest to finish out of all my Bookstravaganza reads.

The “you” is a barman with addiction issues, who is also trying to write a novel.  I felt very little empathy for the character, but it was written well, especially given how the book plays with the way narratives are told.  A couple of us Bookstravaganzers went and saw Patrick DeWitt speak at Grant MacEwan in the spring, and that’s where I picked this one up.  I read the Sisters Brothers for an earlier Bookstravaganza and wasn’t immediately drawn to it or in love with it like everyone else seems to be.

Read this book if you want to read something very different from anything else you’ve probably read.  But you might feel kind of dirty afterwards, and like you’re a deplorable human being.

Books read: 9



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