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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

To read about movies and TV shows I'm watching, visit my other blog: Elliot's Watching

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The ending of the Patrick Melrose novels

Patrick Melrose goes home alone after his mother's funeral, opting to avoid the company of wife and children to have some time alone in his "bedsit" (I guess we'd call it a studio apt.) to "unconsole." After flirting w/ the idea of calling the attractive waitress who served the catered food at the funeral - a pretty appalling idea, and would she really be interested in a wreck like him? - he takes a somber and complex assessment of his life. These internal passages are some of the densest and most challenging in the entire five-volume series; sometimes, I can't even understand the subtle working of his (or author Edward St Aubyn's) mind - same goes for the interior thought processes of the philosopher, Erasmus, though I think on those St. Aubyn may be having us on, and showing off, a bit - but the essence of Patrick's reflection is that he has to get beyond blaming his parents for the terrible things he's done in, and w/, his life:  it's kind of a self-administered psychotherapy, and in that sense it endorses friend Johnny's defense of his profession and puts the lie to the now late Nicholas with his bitter and foolish indictment of psychotherapy. If only it were as easy as Patrick likes to think! But he does make a wise observation that behind his harmful and even sadistic parents lay other layers of evil parents - all in need of love and pity. So where do we break the chain and break free? He seems to have warm feelings toward his children, but feelings are not (always) deeds and actions: he has pulled himself out of their lives to tend to his own needs and indulgences. Btu at the end of this dark novel (series of novels), there's a bit of hope and he decides to call his estranged wife and maybe bring himself back into the family life, chastened and a bit wiser. This is by no means an uplifting book, but it ends on an open, if not an entirely positive, note.

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