Mother's Milk by Edward St. Aubyn

By Edward St. Aubyn

Shortlisted for the 2006 guy Booker Prize, Mother's Milk is the fourth of the Melrose novels.

Now a husband and a father – and irresistibly stuck up in a wreckage of damaged can provide, child-rearing, adultery and assisted suicide – Patrick unearths his spouse Mary fed on through motherhood, his mom Eleanor fed on via a brand new Age beginning, and his five-year-old son figuring out way over he ought. Set among the south of France and the us, Mother's Milk is a panoramic exploration of the stricken allegiances among mom and dad and youngsters, husbands and better halves.

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It might of been a mule. It didnt have no tail nor no hair to speak of but it did have long ears. The other two blacks grinned. The kid looked off down the river. He spat and set off along the path through the willows and swales of grass. He found it about a hundred yards downriver. It was wet to its belly and it looked up at him and then lowered its head again into the lush river grass. He threw down the saddle and took up the trailing rope and tied the animal to a limb and kicked it halfheartedly.

Is he in there? said the boy. That’s what we’re fixin to see. A dark curl of smoke rose, a blue flame of burning varnish. They squatted in the hallway and watched. Thin flames began to run up over the panels and dart back again. The watchers looked like forms excavated from a bog. Tap on the door now, said Toadvine. The kid rose. Toadvine stood up and waited. They could hear the flames crackling inside the room. The kid tapped. You better tap louder than that. This man drinks some. He balled his fist and lambasted the door about five times.

Then the scuffling of chairs pushed back by the players at the wall. The kid froze. Old man, he said. The old man didnt answer. There was no sound in the cafe. The kid turned to find him with his eyes. Está borracho, said the old man. The boy watched the barman’s eyes. The barman waved the pistol toward the door. The old man spoke to the room in Spanish. Then he spoke to the barman. Then he put on his hat and went out. The barman’s face drained. When he came around the end of the bar he had laid down the pistol and he was carrying a bung-starter in one hand.

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