I'm sure everyone is familiar with the mythological bartender, the one with the comforting visage, friendly attitude and kindly ear to listen to the ramblings of stool warmers and offer trenchant, considered and helpful advice to patrons in search of a little professional assistance from the ostensible psychological analysts' of the real world. This ain't one of `em. The unnamed barkeep of Ablutions is little more than another of the social misfits that frequent the fading tavern of his employment, albeit it with benefits...all the top shelf whiskey he cares to imbibe. This is a man absent genuine friendships which is fortunate since he seems extraordinarily gifted in destroying any relationships he establishes.
Written in an adaptation of the second person epistolary/journal style, the anti-hero documents the comings, goings and exquisite failures of a morose assortment of regulars, irregulars and irremovable denizens of the establishment that almost affords him the opportunity to maintain a subsistence lifestyle. He considers his musings on the idiosyncrasies of the clientele notes for a future novel but what he presents to the reader is the lurid descriptive of societal detritus and he inadvertently places himself at the head of the refuse pile. Slowly, but absolutely not methodically, he begins to realize he is nothing more and quite possibly, much less than the individuals he often ridicules. One cannot help but to feel as though you are an interloper, an unauthorized observer of the progressive descent of an entire class of people. In the ironical humor of the dark underbelly of modern society, there also lies a perverse satisfaction or affirmation of one's own life not being as traumatic as another's; in this book soul after vacant soul is introduced and further decimated.
At times, especially at the outset, the course of the prose seemed pointless as though one was in fact reading snippets of depravity that would never be organized into a comprehensible flow, as though the incongruent notes represent merely one more objective the protagonist's addictions will place outside his grasp. But as the reader progresses, the notes seem to become correlative and chronological, with the self-absorption of the anti-hero gradually morphing into a quest for self-preservation. In the inimitable style of many with addictive personalities he latches upon a strategy to save himself, regardless of who or what might be diminished by his ploys.
In a terrarium of scorpions, the actions required for survival are not necessarily commendable acts.