” ‘Surprised to see me?’ said Nicholas Pratt, planting his walking stick on a crematorium carpet and fixing Patrick with a look of slightly aimless defiance, a habit no longer useful but too late to change. ‘I’ve become rather a memorial-creeper. One’s bound to at my age. It’s no use sitting at home guffawing over the ignorant mistakes of juvenile obituarists, or giving in to the rather monotonous pleasure of counting the daily quota of extinct contemporaries. No! One has to “celebrate the life”: there goes the school tart. They say he had a good war, but I know better! – that sort of thing, put the whole achievement in perspective. Mind you, I’m not saying it isn’t all very moving. There’s a sort of swelling orchestra effect to these last days. And plenty of horror, of course. Padding about in my daily rounds from hospital bed to memorial pew and back again, I’m reminded of those oil tankers that used to dash themselves onto the rocks every other week and the flocks of birds dying on the beaches with their wings stuck together and their bewildered yellow eyes blinking.’ “
How I relished every word of Edward St. Aubyn’s novels of the Melrose family this winter. Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope and Mother’s Milk (a Man Booker Prize finalist) were some of my favorite reads of the year. Now I have finally obtained a copy of At Last, which promises to afford some of the emotional safety Patrick Melrose has long, and rather unsuccessfully, sought.
It comes as a welcome respite to the emotionally tangled web in which I find myself upon returning to my classroom.
(Find more First Paragraph intros at Bibliophile by The Sea.)