The Patrick Melrose novels

I usually find “derelict fiction” unappealing (I don’t for instance enjoy Trainspotting, although I admit its aesthetic merits, nor did I like Drugstore Cowboy; someone should write an essay on the merits and demerits of drug-based fiction), but these books are for me compulsively readable and the prose is more vital than almost anything else being written.  They are by Edward St. Aubyn and you can buy the first four of them here, the final one here.   By no means should you let these novels be defined by their excerpts, but here are a few:

How could he ever hope to give up drugs?  They filled him with such intense emotion.  The sense of power they gave him was, admittedly, rather subjective (ruling the world from under the bedcovers, until the milkman arrived and you thought he was a platoon of stormtroopers come to steal your drugs and splatter your brains across the wall), but then again life was so subjective.


If he got her he would give up drugs forever, or at least have someone really attractive to take them with.  He giggled wildly, wrapping a towel around himself and striking back into his bedroom with renewed vigour.


Fergus took me to the coast and forced me to go snorkeling.  All I can say is that the Great Barrier Reef is the most vulgar thing I’ve ever seen.  It’s one’s worst nightmare, full of frightful loud colours, peacock blues, and impossible oranges all higgledy-piggledy while one’s mask floods.

If you are wondering, drug addiction is a central theme in only some of these books, no more than half actually.  There are also scenes of child abuse, family, and Australia.


Comments for this post are closed