cover image The Grotesque

The Grotesque

Patrick McGrath, Author Poseidon Press $17.45 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-66509-8

Witty, weird and highly enjoyable, this gothic British tale is aptly titled. The set-up is macabre: a distinguished paleontologist is brain-damaged and slowly turning into a vegetable. He cannot speak, but narrates an interior monologue of all he sees and hears: a lot of sexual shenanigans and a particularly grisly murder, all centered around ``Fledge,'' the butler, who has ambitions. The stylistic joke is that all these horrors take place in a quaint, genteel English country setting, where the village is ``Pock-on-the-Fling,'' the pub, ``The Hodge and Purlet'' and the barrister, ``Sir Fleckley Tome.'' However deadly the deed, the language is always decorous and impeccably mannered. The result is strangely hilarious--as if a Stephen King story were being told in the manner of a latter-day Anthony Trollope. (May)