Ablutions is Patrick deWitt’s first novel, a darkly comedic look into the decaying lives of LA barflies written from the perspective of an equally self-destructive bar-hand. The novel is written in second person narrative which has the disturbing effect of putting you in the protagonist’s unpleasant and increasingly ugly skin.
I love Patrick deWitt’s tone which is by turns humorous, melancholy, whimsical, dark and surreal. The book is at its best when this tone elevates the mundane to the mystical, as it does when discussing the protagonist’s beat-up LTD which has the magical property of shielding its drunk-driver from detection by the police. The tone saves the book from becoming too soul crushing as the plot-lines (such as they are) turn increasingly grim.
Patrick deWitt’s second novel, The Sisters Brothers, builds nicely on the voice he establishes in this first work. I look forward to whatever he writes in the future.