The Grotesque
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The Grotesque

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  572 ratings  ·  40 reviews
This exuberantly spooky novel, in which horror, repressed eroticism, and sulfurous social comedy intertwine like the vines in an overgrown English garden, is now a major motion picture, starring Alan Bates, Sting, and Theresa Russell.
Paperback, 178 pages
Published January 28th 1997 by Vintage (first published 1989)
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Era da tempo che volevo leggere McGrath, ma mai come nell'ultimo periodo: una sorta di febbrilità non del tutto motivata e al limite del normale - del tutto plausibile però fra librofili, fortunatamente -, tanto che quando mi è capitata davvero l'occasione di leggerlo sono partita in una sorta di urlo interiore di esaltazione che manco avesse vinto l'Italia ai mondiali.
(Tra l'altro, per essere barocchi come il protagonista di codesto libro e sviare dal discorso principale: io che esulto per i m...more
Patrick McGrath, intelligente, ma non si applica. Anzi, si applica, ma senza successo perché proprio sulla parte conclusiva del lavoro si lascia andare. Un libro senza capo né coda che tiene incollati per le prime duecento pagine e che ti fa innervosire sulle ultime quattordici perché non arriva la conclusione e in un libro così o risolvi oppure non si capisce bene dove vuoi andare a parare, e questa sconclusionatezza io non intendo tollerarla. Curato il lato della black comedy (come da copertin...more
Sep 21, 2012 Mike rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
This is the second book I’ve read by Patrick McGrath coming fast on the heels of his original collection, “Blood and Water and Other Tales”. “The Grotesque” echoed some of the darker and stranger stories found in that previous read. As a whole it was very dark, Gothic, and, to me, ponderous. There are a few passages where action occurs quickly, but for most of the book the pace is languid.

Perhaps this is to reinforce the somber tone of the story or the state of the first-person narrator. No matt...more
Clearly demonstrating that it is never too late to embark on the career for which you were intended, Patrick McGrath's first novel, "The Grotesque," was released in May 1989, when its author was pushing 40 years old. Although the Englishman had come out with a volume of shorter pieces earlier that year ("Blood and Water and Other Tales"), "The Grotesque" was his first foray into the world of the longer form, and was, happily, a stunning success. As of 2013, and having just released his eighth no...more
There are flashes of brilliance here, but The Grotesque is often painfully ponderous and overcooked. A shorter, less adorned version of this story could have been pretty good. For me though, the set-up was barely interesting enough to keep reading - perhaps the repressed homosexuality stuff was more shocking when this was published 20 years ago. I will say that the corpse being fed to the pigs almost got this to three stars - almost.
The Crimson Fucker
Failure to adapt = extinction. Fine!!! I’ll seat on the freaking new chairs but that don’t mean I have to like em!!!
This is a weird one. It had enough in it to keep me reading, but I think I only stuck with it because it was on the short side. Lots of people have commended McGrath for his writing style, but I found it a bit over done and taxing. I appreciate what he is trying to accomplish here, but it just didn't work for me. No one is sympathetic, let alone the narrator, and the ending bit the big one. Witty? Insightful? Clever? No. No. No. Great idea, poorly executed.
David Shakespeare
Very enjoyable overall. It has a nice blend of genres, as the reviews quoted on this edition's cover alert us to, and contains some terrifically funny phrases. At the same time, the unreliable narrator could perhaps have been made a little more of as a device: there is never anyone who challenges Sir Hugo's interpretation of events to the same extent that, say, Ford Maddox Ford's John Dowell is challenged. It also seems a little odd that, unlike the sometimes witless Dowell, Sir Hugo is an intel...more
A while ago I saw someone make a recommendation request for "something with a wide cast of eccentric or quirky characters (preferably set in a small town), maybe some dark secrets, preferably with an underlying supernatural events (but not mandatory). I'm not looking for a direct rip-off, but something along the same vain and/or with the same tone (extra points for bizarre events, surreal moments, dark or quirky humor)."

I LOVE Twin Peaks so when someone recommended The Grotesque for this request...more
A gothic version of "The Sense of an Ending" that never reaches that book's mastery, Patrick McGrath's "The Grotesque" is still worth reading for its unreliable narrator, setting, and characters. Sir Hugo is of the Humbert Humbert/Charles Kinbote mold, but for the much of the novel he's in a vegetative state, thinking over how this set of circumstances came to be. It's through his eyes that we see his (perhaps) unfaithful wife, the (perhaps) menacing butler Fledge, the bumbling Sidney, the drunk...more
Sep 15, 2012 Jim rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
I quite liked this book. With the given title, and all the descriptions of spooky and horror I actually expected more of a Gothic horror story than this mild mystery story set in an old British manor.

(view spoiler)

While I could not relate to the proper English household, and the difficul...more
I appreciated the dark humor of this Gothic tale, but found it ultimately disappointing. The unreliable narrator, Sir Hugo, is a nasty piece of work, and while his ravings are entertaining they become tiresome after a while. I kept thinking this would have worked better as a novella.
Alessandro Balestra
Crook è una splendida villa cinquecentesca situata nella verde campagna inglese ed è qui che vi abita la famiglia Coal. Sir Hugo, il capofamiglia, oltre ad essere un pessimo marito, è anche un uomo burbero, antipatico e intrattabile, il suo unico interesse è lo studio della paleontologia. L'arrivo di Fledge, il sinistro maggiordomo di Crook, condurrà la famiglia Coal, ed in particolare Sir Hugo, ad imprevedibili risvolti drammatici. "Grottesco" è un romanzo non facilmente etichettabile in nessun...more
Apr 16, 2007 scott added it
Great fun. The setting is a remote English manor and the characters are all just perverse. The master of the house is a deviant paleontologist; the lady of the house lusts after the butler; the butler may or may not have killed the daughter's fiance; the daughter turns mad after the fiance's bones are found fed to the estate pigs; the butler's wife drinks herself into a stupor nightly. And best of all, the novel is unreliably narrated by the master of the house who is now paralyzed and mute (ver...more
Between the description of an 'infinitesimal glass of sherry', the litany of cutesy place names ('Crook Manor', 'Ceck's Bottom', 'Pock-on-the-Fling') and actually reminding the reader in as many words that the theme of the book is 'the grotesque', I now know what it's like to read a book with the iconoclastic spirit of Gormenghast as written by an author lacking the wit or idiom to carry it off. It's affected, trite, and tiring. Mostly tiring.
Well this is another weird one from McGrath. It was very Gothic in style -- overdone and melodramatic -- but still contained many of the deviant characters he loves to write about. I still was not sure that the narrator's reality was in fact what was actually happening and had actually happened -- but that seems to be a theme of McGrath's.

It was a short and engaging read -- but not his best book -- I suspect one of his earlier ones. Thanks again to Rich for loan of the book.
Entertaining. Gothic style writing, very over-the-top. THis is a re-read. I read this book in college and remembered it as having a shocking twist at the end.. I think I was confusing it with another book I read around the same time. So I felt a little bit like I had been left hanging when the twist never came, but the dark humor and the not-at-all-straightforward mystery style kept me entertained.
Dec 28, 2007 Kellie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of new gothic, McGrath
Shelves: legit-lit
Possibly my favorite McGrath book. I had to keep a dictionary on hand, but I think that the over-the-top writing style/language was essential to the story/character. It was laugh out loud funny in some parts and the perspective of the narrator is very original. I really enjoyed this book and thought about giving it five stars. It is not for everyone though.
Rich Cresswell
A bizarre mystery told from the perspective of an invalid who can't speak... I read it some time ago but remember laughing out loud and groaning with revulsion as the story unfolded. Currently reading another of McGrath's books, I'm definitely a fan!
Mysterious and lovely modern gothic tale! An excellent read though it has a somewhat frustrating ending. The intriguing characters and the author's wording are nevertheless well worth the few hours you'll spend nose-deep in this book.
Matthew Sibenik
You become an English country gentleman in this novel. The main character becomes involved in a Kafkaesque series of circumstances. He becomes a helpless witness to the conclusion of these circumstances.
A very good read.
How delightfully English! Enjoyed the descriptions of country living, coupled with the gothic overtones and what it's like to watch your life being taken over before your eyes. Unnerving.
If you love Gothic themes, this is a great book. A good friend recommended this book, and I read it with a passion. It had such a wonderful sense of humor. Very droll!!
Still my all-time Patrick McGrath book. Between this book and my 8th grade teacher's father's death, I have never looked at pigs the same way again.
A fabulously reliably unreliable narrator. A creepy lesson in the power of grandiosity, negative thinking, and making assumptions.
So great, in the spirit of Poe, wonderfully crafted, I can't wait to read his other books.
Jennifer Gorman
Surprisingly great book - highly recommend. Not all serious - kind of funny in a weird way
Very funny, dark book told by a paralyzed scientist everyone thinks is brain dead.
Ho amato questo libro subito. Mi ricorda di guardare oltre l'apparenza
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Patrick McGrath was born on 7th February, 1950 in London and grew up near Broadmoor Hospital where his father was Medical Superintendent. He was educated at Stonyhurst College. He is a British novelist whose work has been categorized as gothic fiction. He is married to actress Maria Aitken and lives in New York City.
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