I've now read the first three of the quintet of the much-praised Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St. Aubyn, and that's all I'm going to read. It's been a long time since I've encountered anything so nasty. Is there a word for a place in which every single individual is evil, snobbish, vindictive, petty, and cruel. Kakatopia, perhaps. In St. Aubyn's world, Iago would have been an innocent. True enough that he was jealous, obsessed, manipulative and murderous, but I doubt that even Iago would have anally penetrated his five-year-old son.
And moreover: if I were a handsome, rich young woman (or a plain poor one) and my date asked me to get down on all fours and eat some squashed figs off the patio floor without benefit of fork or knife, I would run away screaming, slam the door, and let a few years lapse before resuming social activity. So, I hope, would everywoman. In the world of St. Aubyn's fiction, reader, she marries him, and the couple live miserably ever after.
The dilemma that's posed by these novels is that in addition to being richly kakatopic, they're also amusing, clever, and arch, with dialogue that might have been written by a jaded Oscar Wilde. So I laughed -- but whenever I laughed I felt dirty and complicit.
So no more St. Aubyn for me. These novels transcend satire and transmute into ugly spewing. Not for me, thanks.