Books by Patrick McGrath

Patrick McGrath was born in London in 1950. He has lived in various parts of North America and spent several years on a remote island in the north Pacific, before moving to New York City in 1981. He is the author of a story collection, Blood and Water and

CONSTANCE by Patrick McGrath
Released: April 2, 2013

"A novel of fierce rages and great tenderness, exhausting in its emotional intensity."
Unhappy families being unhappy in their own way...again. Read full book review >
TRAUMA by Patrick McGrath
Released: April 11, 2008

"Unpleasantly self-righteous characters gather accusingly around a narrator who's awfully clueless for a shrink—though well written and shrewdly perceptive, as always, this isn't one of McGrath's more compelling efforts."
A psychiatrist with a major Mom problem grapples with guilt and rage in this latest exploration of gothic family ties from McGrath (Port Mungo, 2004, etc.). Read full book review >
GHOST TOWN by Patrick McGrath
Released: Sept. 6, 2005

"Strange bedfellows, but good company."
A vision of New York as a battleground, both literal and figurative, links three spirited stories from a master of sophisticated melodrama (Port Mungo, 2004, etc.). Read full book review >
PORT MUNGO by Patrick McGrath
Released: June 4, 2004

"Dark brooding over dusty secrets in what's far from McGrath's best."
The life of a painter haunted by the death of his daughter, as related by his admiring sister: McGrath's latest is more contemplative than such turbulent tales as Asylum (1997). Read full book review >
MARTHA PEAKE by Patrick McGrath
Released: Oct. 13, 2000

Best known for such vivid and thoughtful literary thrillers as Spider (1990) and Asylum (1997), McGrath extends his range with this ambitious historical melodrama, a tale both as seductively fascinating and as ungainly as its boldly imagined antihero. Read full book review >
ASYLUM by Patrick McGrath
Released: Feb. 1, 1997

"McGrath, always a worthy descendant of Poe, here takes things a level higher—producing fiction in the tradition of Henry James. (First printing of 75,000; author tour)"
A contemporary master of highbrow gothic fiction, McGrath (Dr. Haggard's Disease, 1993, etc.) sticks to worldly psychopathology in his icy new novel. Read full book review >
DR. HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath
Released: May 1, 1993

McGrath carries on his winning streak in the short horror novel form (Spider, 1990; The Grotesque, 1989; Blood and Water and Other Tales, 1987). Dr. Haggard's disease is sexual passion, and the story of its ravages is told in flashback as the crippled hero pieces it out to the heroine's son James, an RAF pilot. It is late-30's London, with WW II looming, and overworked and deeply exhausted young internist Edward Haggard is learning to cut under the tutelage of top surgeon Vincent Cushing and senior pathologist Ratcliff Vaughan. At a party, Haggard receives a silent smile from Vaughan's wife, Fanny, and is at once obsessed by her—as, indeed, she must be with him. Before long they have secret meetings at the Two Eagles pub and many a sexual rendezvous in his digs. McGrath charts the deepening of their adulterous passion in the same fine spirit used by modern masters of obsession, from the Japanese to Nabokov, and while this delights, it also brings on dÇjÖ vu. As becomes inevitable in the disease of passion, Edward and Fanny's affair forms a boil that fate must lance. Pathologist Ratcliff, smelling of Formalin and human rot when he comes to his wife's bed, plays the mythic emotional icicle until in rage he pushes Edward down a flight of steps, breaking Edward's hip. The hip is bolted together with a metal piece Edward names ``Spike,'' and Spike's pain leads Edward into lasting morphine addiction, costs him his role in surgery, and demotes him to general practice. Then Fanny comes down with nephritis.... Meanwhile, James becomes an angel in Spitfires, and quite literally his dead mothers's embodiment.... An unbearably memorable ending lifts this to classic level while the thin bright nerves of the storyline are padded with magnificent surgical detail, hospital lore, and moods you can rub your finger down. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 31, 1991

Cadillac Gothic with new chrome stripping on stories going to the same old grave, by some heavy-hitters in the rich-prose department. At the Poe pinnacle of Old Gothic, all detail and landscape emerge from the tortured, fragmenting psyche of the hero. No such figure easily defines the New Gothic. Many of these tales—of which Paul West's ``Banquo and the Black Banana: The Fierceness of the Delight of Horror'' is the worst offender (it reads at times like a Burroughs cutup)—are overrich by half, and the straightforwardness of Ruth Rendell's ``For Dear Life,'' Joyce Carol Oates's ``Why Don't You Come Live with Me It's Time,'' and Angela Carter's ``The Merchant of Shadows'' blow like breaths of fresh air through the heavy vapors. The single, most well-focused story herein is Rendell's, about the cramps of horror besetting an old dowager taking her first subway ride in London. The best stylist may well be John Edgar Wideman, whose plague tale, ``Fever,'' opens marvelously: ``He stood staring through a window at the last days of November. The trees were barren women starved for love and they'd stripped off all their clothes, but nobody cared.'' The most far-out tale (that still tells a story) is Robert Coover's ugly but cuckoo ``The Dead Queen,'' a reworking of Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from the point of view of Prince Charming on the wedding night: no matter how madly Charming performs in bed, Snow White awakens in the morning with hymen restored (as she has awakened after endless sex with the seven dwarfs before Prince Charming awakened her in the coffin that the vanity-ridden queen now lies in). Most fanciful is a tossup, but John Hawkes's ``Regulus and Maximus,'' about the sins of monks, is superpurple. Anne Rice presents a lacy Lestat the Vampire excerpt from Interview with the Vampire. All weighed together, too much and not enough. Should do well, though. Read full book review >

Deliciously stylish gothic-suspense first novel by McGrath (Blood and Water, 1988)—which, though spiced with many horror-story elements, does not trade on spine-chilling sensation but rather on a fiercely controlled humor and black brilliance. The present novel is the Waughesque story of a middle-aged married paleontologist and country squire, Sir Hugo Coal, and his new butler Fledge, who may or may not be a homosexual vampire. Fledge and his alcoholic wife Doris arrive from Africa and are hired by Sir Hugo's wife Harriet. Fledge is a slim, hidden creature, at first the perfect butler; his tall, bustless wife Doris, a raven-headed shy thing, only gradually reveals her alcoholism, which finally bursts into its full glory when she serves a marvelous halibut for dinner—completely uncooked. Meanwhile, Sir Hugo has had a cerebral accident and is wheelchair-bound. No one knows that he is not really a vegetable. The novel is his stream-of-consciousness rehearsal of events that led up to his burst vessel and of what he knows or imagines is going on around him as he sits staring paralytically at his beautifully carved fireplace. Among these events is the disappearance of his daughter Cleo's nincompoop fiancÇ, Sidney Giblet. Sir Hugo has seen Fledge kissing Sidney or Sidney kissing Fledge, he's not sure which, suspects Fledge has been blackmailing Sidney or Sidney Fledge, and that Fledge has murdered Sidney. Cleo begins breaking down with an undefined mental illness. Sir Hugo, who has not had sex with Harriet for 25 years because of his all-consuming passion for dinosaur bones, watches from his wheelchair while Fledge seduces Harriet and begins step by step replacing him as lord of the manor, finally giving up his butler's uniform altogether for a smartly tailored outfit. Along the way, it appears that Sidney has not simply sunk into Ceck Marsh but has actually been chopped up and fed to Sir Hugo's pigs—which in turn have been slaughtered for Christmas hams and been eaten by all and sundry, including Sidney's fabulously well-drawn mother, Mrs. Giblet. No more should be told. . . A one-sitting read—and it would make an absolutely smashing movie. Read full book review >