The Grotesque

Title: The Grotesque
Author: Patrick McGrath
Publisher: Penguin Books
ISBN: 0-140-12653-8
Pages: 186
Year: 1990

Paleontologist Sir Hugo Coal´s only life occupation was playing with his Phlegmosaurus Carbonensis dinosaur bones, until his wife hired a new butler. The man called Fledge was very strange and seemed to laugh at him when misfortunes arose. Things weren´t going to Sir Hugo Coal´s liking before this new butler came to  the scene, but then his daughter´s fiancée suddenly disappears under mysterious circumstances.

The book can be described in one word: grotesque, which is fittingly also the title of the book. There are some serious freaky things happening in Sir Hugo Coal’s life.

The Grotesque is a gothic novel and I felt challenged to read this different writing style. The story is about a middle-aged man who is a pawn in the evil master plan of his butler. It is Sir Hugo Coals himself who tells the story. Alternating between the present times and his memories of the past, the story is told. He  is an arrogant and self-absorbed man who mostly thinks about his own needs, so the story is influenced by that.

I’m not quite sure what to think of this novel. On the one hand it was interesting to be in the mind of a man who regrets his past and is unable to do something about his future. On the other hand the crude and nasty scenes (with dead cows and bones with teeth marks) weren’t that nice.

If you ask me if you should read The Grotesque my advice will be negative, but when you want a strange psychological story this is a ‘must-read’.


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