EMILY MAGAZINE (www.emilymagazine.com/2006/05/some_hope.html)

May 30, 2006

Some Hope

Sometimes the world seems overwhelmingly full of books to read, especially when the weather is nice and every activity pales in comparison to sitting outside and finishing the awesome and oddly suspenseful book one is in the middle of. You can probably tell from my use of the third person that the book I've been reading is by a British person. The one before it (One Good Turn) was too, and I just wrote in an email that something would be 'lovely' so I should probably read an American book next so as to avoid the risk of developing some frightful (crossed out) awful Madonna accent. But it will be hard to prevent myself from rushing out to the bookstore and buying Mother's Milk after after I finish the final book of Edward St. Aubyn's 'Some Hope' trilogy, which is available in a handsome paperback edition from Open City Books. 
The first novel, Never Mind, finds five-year-old Patrick Melrose and his unspeakably horrible parents at their chateau in the South of France, where the action centers around a dinner party at which upper-crusty assholes try to insult each other to death. The second novel, Bad News, catches up with 22 year old Patrick in New York, where he's embarking on a manic speedball binge in order to commemorate the recent death of his evil father. The final book finds Patrick at 30; I'm only a few pages in, but horrible aristocrats are already behaving stupidly. 
Kirkus calls St. Aubyn's style "an unlikely blend of Henry James and Bret Easton Ellis," and I haven't been able to come up anything more apt -- maybe Evelyn Waugh meets Mary Gaitskill, but still with some Bret Easton Ellis sprinkled over the top? With a side of Alan Hollinghurst? And only the very best aspects of each? Here, see what I mean:
“During lunch David felt that he had perhaps pushed his disdain for middle-class prudery a little too far. Even at the bar of the Cavalry and Guards Club one couldn’t boast about homosexual, paedophiliac incest with any confidence of a favourable reception. Who could he tell that he had raped his five-year-old son? He could not think of a single person who would not prefer to change the subject – and some would behave far worse than that. The experience itself had been short and brutish, but not altogether nasty. He smiled at Yvette, said how ravenous he was, and helped himself to the brochette of lamb and flageolets.”

Here are a couple of good interviews with St. Aubyn which you should probably save until after you've read at least some of the books. ( I have recently decided that I like to know as little as possible about an author before reading his work; it keeps me from disliking things for bad and dumb reasons, such as envy or class angst). 
I was going to write more, but then I got to the point in the Independent interview where he says,
"All serious writing is attracted to places which aren't already filled up with words. It's always going to be some kind of raid on the inarticulate; either something has to be taboo, as is the case with Never Mind, or on the fringes of unconsciousness, as with Bad News. It has to be on the edge of what's sayable, or it's not worth saying. If it's already covered with words like weevils on a biscuit, there is no point, is there?"
and so I decided not to.

 

—emily, May 30, 2006 12:49 PM