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The Grotesque

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  905 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
Paralysed, mute and confined to a wheelchair, former palaeontologist Sir Hugo Coal recounts the events that led to his 'cerebral accident', as well as his suspicions of his butler Fledge, who he suspects is plotting to replace him as Lord of Crook Manor.
Paperback, 178 pages
Published January 28th 1997 by Vintage (first published 1989)
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Maciek
Do you know the filthiest dirty joke ever told? It begins with a family of entertainers walking into a talent agent's office, who asks them to perform their act; the joke's midsection depends on the teller, who then ad-libs the most vile, lewd and disgusting things imaginable: murder, rape, pedophilia, incest and others. The joke ends with the shocked talent agent asking: "what is this act called?", to which the family responds with unusual flourish: "The Aristocrats!"

Decadence and eventual degr
...more
Sandy
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Anastasia
Apr 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-2013
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
Mike
Sep 21, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Simona
Aug 21, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Qui non c'è il McGrath di Follia che fa precipitare il lettore nella follia del protagonista, né il McGrath di Spider che ci trascina nella mente di uno schizofrenico. Qui c'è tutto e niente, tutto è il contrario di tutto.
Grottesco non è solo il titolo del libro, ma è anche la storia che qui si narra e i personaggi che ne fanno parte. È tutto paradossale e assurdo.
Forse il senso, il significato è proprio questo: il paradosso, la deformità che si nasconde in ognuno di noi impedendoci andare oltr
...more
Mark Joyce
Apr 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Brilliantly written and very, very funny. The only negative thing I can say about this book is that it caused me to laugh so hard that a snot bubble came out of my nose in the middle of a crowded commuter train. I would describe it as a malevolent Jeeves and Wooster with a dash of Dorian Gray, and I don’t just mean the storyline - the quality of writing stands worthy comparison with P.G. Wodehouse and Oscar Wilde. I’m amazed Patrick McGrath isn’t more widely known and celebrated.
Luana
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Trudi
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.
J.G. Keely
May 31, 2013 rated it did not like it
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.
John
Sep 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
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!!!
Gustl
Oct 31, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In questo romanzo d'esordio McGrath affila le armi che utilizzerà poi nei seguenti e più soddisfacenti lavori. Grottesco è una sorta di commedia nera in cui reale e immaginazione si confondono continuamente fino alla fine, tra digressioni e rimandi continui nel raccontare una trama che in realtà non esiste, o meglio, non si capisce se vissuta dal protagonista o immaginata. Lettura simpatica, a tratti noiosa e finale che riflette uno dei tanti finali possibili lasciando il lettore vagamente confu ...more
Joe
Jan 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
This is one well crafted little novel. McGrath creates a remarkable, gothic atmosphere and a fantastically suspicious and intriguing narrator in Sir Hugo Coal, who seems to be your typical unreliable narrator. Dark, compelling and laced with dark humour. This demands more than one reading.
The Literary Chick
Marilyn Macron will now read anything P. Curran tells her to.
Barbara Justiniano
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Good read.
Spriggans
great
Rebecca Mazzarella
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporanea
https://www.lunaticamente.com/recensi...

Questa storia viene narrata in prima persona e tutti i fatti vengono raccontati come memoria di ciò che è successo da quando la moglie del sig. Hugo Coal (il nostro protagonista) ha assunto i signori Fledge a servizio della famiglia.
Sir. Hugo è costretto a vivere la sua vita in una sedia a rotelle e mano a mano che la storia si snoda vengono alla luce i fatti in un crescendo di inquietudine e lieve senso di claustrofobia.
Ero sempre più curiosa - pagina dop
...more
Sean McBride
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
A modern disciple of Shirley Jackson, McGrath unfolds the gothic tale with grace and alacrity. His characters are well founded, even if they just have short appearances in his stories, and his plots are devious and unique. Even in this story, a veiled mystery, that weaves and rocks and takes the reader to expected places in an unexpected way. Yet in the end there is no true revelation, as is usual in mysteries.
Unabashedly literary, fantastically horrific, and wonderfully gothic, McGrath hits it
...more
Alfred
May 31, 2017 rated it liked it
I read it for a British Literature class. It's not bad, I enjoyed it, has some good humor but overall its a bit dark in its humor idk
Gabe
Mar 21, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Romy
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: british, 1990s, read-2013
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
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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
Jim
Apr 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
David Shakespeare
Jan 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Kimberly Ann
As the title suggests "Grotesque" about sums this dark, disturbing, twisted tale to a tee.

A new butler & housekeeper (sans references), a young couple (one murdered), the Narrator husband due to an "accident" is now a "Grotesque" an "Ontological Vegetable" trapped in his body, and the wife who is in thrall with the new butler.......

For myself, this proved a difficult read, for these are old "mannered" people of country gentry and the narration bespeaks that manner....

It was thrilling and chi
...more
Irene Carmina
Carica di aspettative dopo essere stata stregata da Follia, ho letto Grottesco. Lo stile è, come di consueto per McGrath, incalzante e la lettura scorrevole. La trama intriga e dentro di me risuonava vibrante la rabbia e il dolore per le condizioni del protagonista e l'odio sottile per il maggiordomo. Ma è un'emozione latente che non riesce ad esteriorizzarsi, prigioniera, come il sentimento di sir Hugo Coal. Non esplode questo libro. E così alla fine mi sono chiesta: ma davvero termina così? In ...more
scott
Apr 16, 2007 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
Jen
Mar 25, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Ed Yoo
Mar 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well Written and Engaging

I have never hated a protagonist more than Sir Hugo Coal. He is a horrendous, callous man and the way McGrath writes him is amazing. Although you are prone to sympathy for the man at times, he invariably will demonstrate his miserable and entitled outlook on life and end any feelings of pity you might be experiencing. Overall, this is an engaging read and perhaps a warning to us all about the perils of hiring a butler.
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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.
More about Patrick McGrath...
“Solitude is a terrible thing, for it permits the imagination to picture, in detail, that which perhaps should never be articulated.” 1 likes
“Various pieces of huge dark furniture constricted the passage, and the place smelled of boiled fish. I was shown into the parlor, where the gloom of that overcast day was filtered through windows curtained in dingy lace.” 0 likes
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