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Bad News

(Patrick Melrose #2)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  5,646 ratings  ·  546 reviews
Twenty-two years old and in the grip of a massive addiction, Patrick Melrose is forced to fly to New York to collect his father’s ashes. Over the course of a weekend, Patrick’s remorseless search for drugs on the avenues of Manhattan, haunted by old acquaintances and insistent inner voices, sends him into a nightmarish spiral. Alone in his room at the Pierre Hotel, he push ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 18th 1997 by Minerva (first published 1992)
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Kayleigh Iacov The "right" order is Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, Mothers Milk then At Last... however if you watch the show it starts with Bad News then Never Mi…moreThe "right" order is Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, Mothers Milk then At Last... however if you watch the show it starts with Bad News then Never Mind, Some Hope etc etc etc. Definitely recommend all of them, my favourite books in the world!!(less)

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Glenn Sumi
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, Mr. St. Aubyn. What a descent into hell this was. Albeit a well-written, mordantly funny descent into hell.

There are scenes in your fked up novel - the second in your Patrick Melrose series - I will never forget. I’m surprised I even had the stomach to finish it. Needles, after all, make me squeamish. And details about injecting stuff into various body parts, finding and then losing veins, blood rushing into syringes... ugh.

I can only say the experience of reading your book was like slowly
Paul Bryant
Jan 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread.

Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Psalm 53.


I cannot be the only reader of Bad News who by page 20 had already cast the gold-medallist of supercilious contempt Richard E Grant of Withnail and I

as Patrick Melrose, the ghastly rich 22 year old English junkie. As soon as young Melrose stares into the room, his eyes like slits, his pallor
Dec 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, books-i-own
(3.5 stars) Edward St Aubyn is a really clever man. He has managed to write a novel whose protagonist is a selfish, tragic, upper-class drug addict and whose content I disliked throughout nearly the entire book. Yet, I am helplessly drawn to this series about Patrick Melrose because St Aubyn just writes so damn well:

The four Valiums he had stolen from Kay had helped him face breakfast, but now he could feel the onset of withdrawal, like a litter of drowning kittens in the sack of his stomach.

Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
The Melrose Saga continues.

Name: Patrick Melrose
Age: 22
Occupation: Rich Addict
Location: Pierre Hotel, New York
Reason: In New York to collect the body of his father David Melrose who passed away.

This book focus on Patrick most of the time. We see the real addict in him, the way he needs to fill that void in him.. the joy and happiness that some bad news brings to him and let him on a wonderful spiral down the abyss.
I read the first Patrick Melrose volume, Never Mind, in June and found it so unpleasant I was unsure whether to continue with the series. I’m glad I did. This is a blackly comic look at two days in the life of a drug addict who comes to New York City to see his father’s body and take away his ashes for scattering. Oh the meals, parties and (mostly) drug-taking Patrick crams into 48 or so hours! Chapter 7 is full of the most wonderful chorus of voices that comes to him as he’s tripping. Whenever ...more
Jason Koivu
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Oof! This is an epically depressing game of chutes and ladders. The degradation is so very sad-making, and yet, there is a beauty here, at least in the writing. Patrick Melrose's suppression of the demon's of his past with a drug binge described in vivid detail is a marvel to behold. I wish I hadn't. It's made me absolutely miserable...which is how I know the author is on his game! On to book three, which I'm led to believe holds some hope in least in the title. ...more
Jun 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, british
That was one hell of a celebration, Patrick.
This spree of alcohol and drug-fueled self-loathing drags the reader along in a juddering skid through his familiar gutters.
The density of the metaphors is outdone only by the recklessness of the drug use. Both were magnificent.
Roman Clodia
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The tragedy of old age when a man is too weak to hit his own child. No wonder he had died.

More bitter, more scabrous than Never Mind, this second of the Melrose novels is set 17 years later: it's now 1982 and Patrick is both independently-wealthy and a confirmed junkie. A trip to New York to collect his father's ashes is the context for a drug-fuelled orgy of self-loathing, and risky, quasi-suicidal behaviour.

What lifts the book from the gutter where Patrick, just about metaphorically, reve
So ok. Tiny recap in case you missed my review of the first one. I bought this series before the Showtime miniseries with Benedict Cumberbatch was in the works. I did not read book one until I saw they were making a show. I didn’t love it but I liked it and the author can write a sentence that’s painfully gorgeous. I started book two with the intention of reading all five before trying the show. I was mildly invested. Still, overall loving his writing. Noticing more in this book how he can reall ...more
Mark Joyce
Bad News has strong similarities with the weaker novels of Brett Easton Ellis, in that it's a studiedly unpleasant, occasionally very funny but ultimately monotonous and forgetable depiction of a drug addicted misanthrope. For the same reason there are also parallels with Irvine Welsh, except St Aubyn's smackhead is a self-pitying English aristocrat rather than a violent Scottish sociopath. Irvine Welsh and Brett Easton Ellis are both perfectly decent authors that I've enjoyed reading, so that's ...more
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
Well, nuts. I practically lit “Bad News,” the second book of Edward St Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose series off of the first super innovative, funny, dark, mind-blowing first novel of the series and meh. It turned out be a dud follow up to a book that made me shoot exclamation points from my pores.

In the first book, Patrick Melrose is a 5-year-old daredevil with the first assholic buds forming in his personality. “Never Mind” is a day in the life of his parents, their friends and the kid and the stor
Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
You know what's more boring to someone than telling them about your dreams? Telling a recovered addict about the details of one of your binges. OK I get it - St Aubyn either was one or knows one - it was pretty decent detail though you can never really write down all the shit going on in someone's head who's shooting for the line just short of OD but It's as good as I've seen...but still, where was the clever Britcasm of the first least it was short. On to the next one. And again, ret ...more
Jessica Woodbury
Oct 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: library
Good God there's a lot of drugs in this book.

I get that the brief adventures of a serious drug addict trying to cope with unspeakable emotion is basically a genre in and of itself, but it's never really been my cup of tea. Since I started this book right after NEVER MIND, I began with a lot of sympathy towards Patrick, who's clearly been traumatized for years by his parents and has never learned any kind of coping mechanisms that don't involve substance abuse. But by the end of this book it was
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, class-system
From the first Patrick Melrose novel, Never Mind, it was overwhelmingly evident that poor abused Patrick was not going to have a happy life. ‘Bad News’ confirms this with a vengeance. It takes the reader to 1982 and follows Patrick to New York, where he picks up his father’s ashes and goes on a drug binge that he is lucky to survive. Between doses of coke, smack, etc, Patrick attempts small talk with miscellaneous family friends and acquaintances. These interactions are the best part of the book ...more
Ben Loory
May 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the first book was building the cannon; this book is the guy getting shot out of the cannon with forty thousand syringes stuck into him.
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very very good and implacably dark book, with what has to be some of the best drug writing ever. If that sounds like dubious praise then feast your fiending synapses on this:

Remembering his drug dealer’s number and the hideous giddiness that dialing it brings about, ‘He hadn’t rung it since September, eight months ago, but he would never forget the bowel-loosening excitement of those seven digits.’

On route to cop drugs a Chinese cabbie tells him,
‘Avenue D bad place.’
‘I’m relying on that,’ sa
Alex Sarll
I was only cautiously enthusiastic about the first Patrick Melrose novel - but with the second, I begin to see what St Aubyn is up to. Previously, we met Patrick as a shy, tormented five-year-old; now he's 22 and, not to put too fine a point on it, a total wanker - a selfish, self-pitying specimen, constantly taking one drug to balance out the other drug of which he just took too much while trying to take the edge off...and so forth. Which means that an awful lot of this book features St Aubyn's ...more
Aug 27, 2014 rated it liked it
This is book two in a series and it is not as appealing as book one although it is just as well written and occasionally quite funny. The main character, Patrick Melrose has grown up to be a serious drug addict and much of the book is about his addiction in great detail. I know a lot more about drug taking now than I have ever needed or wanted to know. However it is obviously just a stage in Patrick's life and I expect we will see him as a recovered addict in the next book. I plan on starting it ...more
"Everything was under control.

No, he mustn't think about it, or indeed about anything, and especially not about heroin, because heroin was the only thing that stopped him scampering around in a hamster's wheel of unanswerable questions. Heroin was the cavalry. Heroin was the missing chair leg, made with such precision that matched every splinter of the break. Heroin landed purring at the base of his skull, and wrapped itself darkly around his nervous system, like a black cat curling up on its
Dan Myatt
A tale of excess, well written but very boring!
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
As delightfully witty and terrible and mean and funny as the previous volume. The barrage of awfulness that is the inside of the protagonist's mind could become a little tiring, but it was always so on purpose. We follow a person who is deeply broken, sexist and racist and fatmisic (phobic really doesn't begin to describe him), and it's impossible not to feel some empathy while the book mocks him ruthlessly. There's a scene near the end where Patrick, quite high at the time, uses a variety of ps ...more
Tanja Berg
Jun 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: family-saga
"The shock of standing again under the wide pale sky, completely exposed. This must be what the oyster feels when the lemon juice falls.'

The prose and the acerbic social commentary works wonders with this book, even if the content itself is rather limited. Nothing much happens.

Upper-class Patrick is 22-years old and spends his days getting wasted. Then his horrible father has died and he has to collect the ashes in New York. Patrick continues to chase the next hit even in New York. There are pl
Bad News is well-written, but it lacks the millefeuille layers of Never Mind. The abuse memoir is often a hackneyed and unintelligent sort of book, so perhaps the first Patrick Melrose book is even more startling for being a very clever example of it.

I was disappointed not to find similar intricacy and structure here - though the narrative form arguably reflects Patrick's self-absorption. The literary junkie-novel already has a grubbily illustrious history; I felt that St Aubyn's interiority, v
Lori Weiman
Mar 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: literature
After being totally enthralled with NEVER MIND, Edward St. Aubyn's first book in THE PETER MELROSE NOVELS, I was underwhelmed with BAD NEWS, Book #2. That's not to say that the writing was any less lyrical or impressive, rather the story about Peter learning of his father's death and traveling to New York to pick up his ashes is one in which I was underwhelmed. Nearly the entirety of the book was trying to figure out Peter's state of lucidity as he binged on alcohol and drugs. Understandably, Pe ...more
Jamie Collins
Oct 29, 2018 rated it liked it
In this second book of the series, Patrick Melrose is 22 years old and an absolute wreck, which is not surprising considering the glimpse of his childhood we got in the first book.

He’s just heard about the sudden death of his wretched father, and the entire (short) novel covers two days in New York City, where Patrick has gone to retrieve his father’s remains. The vast majority of the story is Patrick seeking drugs and using them - an astonishing, horrifying amount of drugs. He washes down spee
Liina Bachmann
Jul 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I find graphic descriptions about drug addiction in novels very tedious and this was no exception, unfortunately. The writing was good but it was, of course, unpleasant to read, especially as it seemed to serve no other purpose than to show how fucked up the protagonist is. Looking forward to a more lucid Patrick Melrose in the third instalment of the series.
Jan 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
[ 3.5 stars ]

If you're scared or grossed out by needles, this will not be easy to read.
Jun 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I knew going in that this was going to be the 'toughest' part (of the Patrick Melrose series) to get through. ~and it is, yet it isn't.

It's not so much that it's a difficult read (St. Aubyn's writing is still... sort of... breezy enough, in its own economic way). But, ultimately, it's a disposable one. That quality (oddly enough) fits the novel 'perfectly' since the entire plot consists of Patrick's trip to New York to claim his father's ashes.

But I'm glad I'm now beyond this particular segue
Anne Kadet
Jun 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Fun-bun. So much drugs. NYC! NYC! NYC!
May 07, 2016 rated it liked it

It doesn't have the 'not quite of this world' nightmare fairytale feel of the first book. And, perhaps inevitably given that it is narrated (almost) entirely from the point of view of Patrick Melrose, who is no longer the five year old to whom bad things happen, but a fairly insufferable self-absorbed heroin addict, it does feel very insular by comparison.

And I think I've read enough novels about drug addiction. There were moments, such as the fugue-dream-nightmares Patrick experiences that
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Edward St Aubyn was born in London in 1960. He was educated at Westminster school and Keble college, Oxford University. He is the author of six novels, the most recent of which, ‘Mother’s Milk’, was shortlisted for the 2006 Man Booker Prize, won the 2007 Prix Femina Etranger and won the 2007 South Bank Show award on literature.

His first novel, ‘Never Mind’ (1992) won the Betty Trask award. This no

Other books in the series

Patrick Melrose (5 books)
  • Never Mind
  • Some Hope
  • Mother's Milk
  • At Last

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