Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Review: "Mother's Milk" by Edward St. Aubyn

It was good to finally read a really good book after a few duds, but I never expected it to be Edward St. Aubyn’s Mother’s Milk, the sequel to the amazing trilogy of novels I read earlier this year, Some Hope. I was apprehensive about reading this book, even after really liking Some Hope, mainly because I have never been one to read a book simply because the assemblage of words is pretty and sounds cool. Technique will never replace the power of storytelling ability, at least for me, but I guess that St. Aubyn proved something to me: that if you use the prose in the right way, it can actually help tell the story. As far reaching as this example is, the way St. Aubyn uses prose is the way Elmore Leonard uses dialogue. It not only just sounds cool, but it moves the story along and lets the reader create the pictures of the action and people within there minds without resorting to force feeding them exposition. A talent like that is really quite rare, and shows that the person respects both syntax and the quality of narrative. And we should all be lucky that St. Aubyn is one of those writers, because he brings a certain knowledge and thoughtfulness to the area of society that he writes about that makes for great entertainment, even if it is the kind that derives most of its pleasure by the shortcomings and adversity of others. The story, just like Some Hope, follows the trials and tribulations of the Melrose family, specifically the family of Patrick, the young boy who was sexually abused at the beginning of Some Hope. He now has his own family and his own problems. His oldest son, Robert, who can somehow recall his time in his mother’s womb as well as his birth (just go with it, it’s okay), narrates the first section, where he develops into something of outsider in his family with very little contact with anyone at his school, expect his fat friend Josh, only to come out of his shell when he begins to share in his father’s disdain for Robert’s grandma, who is slowly dying, yet not quick enough in the eyes of Patrick. Patrick, ever the kind of person to cut you more deeply with words than fists, is bombarded with a slew of problems, including the reintroduction of a lost love and his mother donating the house they live in now to the charity of the shady, yet cordial Seamus. All the while his wife, Mary, is consumed, almost incestually, with the idea of motherhood. We follow these three, along with the infant Thomas, as they go to America and back, all the while cursing everything they come in contact with in some of the funniest literary zingers you are likely to hear. Never had I read prose that accomplished so much that I was all too eager to savor this book as long as I could.
Rating: 5/5

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