This debut novel from Patrick DeWitt presents a startlingly honest look into the lives and the patrons at a declining Hollywood bar. Narrated in second person from the perspective of a nameless, disconcerted bartender, the stories he recounts are strung together in an impressionistic fashion that serves to unnerve the reader as much as the tragedies themselves.
Written as a collection of individual notes and ruminations for a novel, the form of the work parallels the destructive cycle and lack of coherent direction the narrator desires to escape. He observes every aspect of decay from the physical surroundings to the internal rotting of the people themselves.
DeWitt masterfully uses a lack of detail and an authorial abstraction in the heartbreaking images he puts forth in his work allowing the reader to fill in the blanks. Ablutions is a revelation unlike any other into the gritty effects that drugs, alcoholism, and most of all loneliness can have on the human spirit.
Jordan Von Cannon