At Last

Edward St Aubyn, Author
Edward St. Aubyn. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25 (272p) ISBN 978-0-330-43590-1
Paperback - 263 pages - 978-0-330-43592-5
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Eleanor Melrose has died, and her son Patrick is attending her memorial service at the opening of this brilliant, introspective, and witty novel from St. Aubyn, the fifth, and presumably final, in the autobiographical series (after Mother’s Milk which, like this novel, was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize). Though it’s possible to read At Last on its own, it’s best appreciated as the conclusion to the long, often torturous story of Patrick Melrose and his aristocratic but barbarous family. The funeral allows St. Aubyn to bring an enormous cast into play, offering multiple perspectives on the Melroses, but St. Aubyn’s true subject is Patrick: being raped by his father as a child, his mother’s squandering of the family fortune on the “Transpersonal Foundation,” his own stints in rehab. Despite a level of dysfunction that would render most novels unreadable (and most lives unlivable), the book is a masterpiece of dark comedy, with plentiful wit. St. Aubyn’s greatest accomplishment, however, lies in his rendering of consciousness itself, turning inchoate thought and memory into a thematically unified, unflinching, and deeply satisfying narrative. Though he echoes Anthony Powell and Evelyn Waugh, St. Aubyn’s voice is unique, powerful, and scathingly funny. Agent: Aitken Alexander Associates. (Feb.)
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