In the first of this quadrilogy, Never Mind, poor five-year-old Patrick lives under the rule of a father that charms people only to humiliate them later. Lured in from playtime by his father's piano playing--a tune the Daddy composed especially for Patrick--he stands before the man, ready to please. "Shall I pick you up by your ears?" the father gently teases. With the boy sufficiently softened up, the father makes good on his tease/threat and Patrick hangs in the air, convinced that "his ears were going to be torn off, like the gold foil from a pot of cream." Dad ignores the boy's whimpers, then caps off the experience with fatherly advice: "Always think for yourself. Never let other people make important decisions for you."
And it gets much worse.
Much of the first novel is a house party, populated by this daddy-of-bad-surprises and his thoroughly demoralized wife. Guests include a serially-married piece of British gentry who brings along his hippie girlfriend of the moment; plus a philosopher, who also brings his date, an American journalist, a woman with enough detachment to see through Bad Daddy, at least a little.
The British gentlemen misses women who can give him intelligent conversation, but at a flash of the hippie girlfriend's legs, he forgets all about intelligence.
And they all meet to drink wine and gossip wickedly. The weed-fortified hippie girl, too dazzled by the glorious south-of-France estate on which they spend a weekend, doesn't quite catch on to how much fun this isn't.
Why would I read about such cruel, self-absorbed people? Well, their world is untouched by the fears and frustrations of mine, so I go there for a visit.
The cow patties are truly distasteful. I'm not recommending, just reporting.
By now, I have moved on to the second installment, Bad News. Patrick is now twenty-two. His father has just died. Patrick flies from London to New York to identify the body. Naturally, he doesn't mourn. No, it's more like a celebration, bingeing on heroin. Then again, this is a pretty sorry way to celebrate, as Patrick spins out of control. Shall I call my New York dealer? No, I definitely won't call him. I'll leave this restaurant and go straight back to the hotel. Tell you what. I'll just ring him up and if he doesn't answer, then Fate has spoken. No dealer tonight. D---! Why doesn't he answer. Well, maybe I'll just swing by and pay him a social call.
I recall a story in People Magazine wherein a rock star admitted that, at first, drugs were fun. Then, they were fun with problems. In the end, it was just the problems.
We know that Patrick will become the father of little Robert, whom we mentioned last week. So we await better days for this boy who grew up with such a bad excuse for a father.
After a dip into this world, I return to my own, where I cook my Fast Sunday meal: