À mon chevet is a series of posts featuring a quote from whatever book is on my nightstand at the moment.
The trend of autobiographical novels -- Elena Ferrante, Karl Ove Knausgaard -- includes the inimitable Patrick Melrose series by Edward St. Aubyn, now available in a complete set including the final book, At Last. It is typical of the series in that it takes place on one single, rather horrid day in the narrator's life, the funeral of his mother. Amid the encounters of the parts of his mother's sad life, many memories of other days flood into the story, in the minds and voices of several characters. Readers who treasure bitchy repartee will be relieved to know that the incorrigible character of Nicholas Pratt has a final turn in the spotlight. Here, he spars with Annette, the irrepressibly happy New Age apostle of the charlatans who trick Patrick's mother into giving them her family house in southern France.
Patrick drifted towards Nicholas and Annette, curious to see the outcome of his matchmaking. "Stand by the graveside or the furnace,' he heard Nicholas instructing Annette, 'and repeat these words, "Goodbye, old thing. One of us was bound to die first and I'm delighted it was you!" That's my spiritual practice, and you're welcome to adopt it and put it into your hilarious "spiritual tool box".'
'Your friend is absolutely priceless,' said Annette, seeing Patrick approaching. 'What he doesn't realize is that we live in a loving universe. And it loves you too, Nick,' she assured Nicholas, resting her hand on his recoiling shoulder.
'I've quoted Bibesco before,' snapped Nicholas, 'and I'll quote him again: "To a man of the world, the universe is a suburb".'
'Oh, he's got an answer to everything, hasn't he?' said Annette. 'I expect he'll joke his way into heaven. St. Peter loves a witty man.'
'Does he?' said Nicholas, surprisingly appeased. 'That's the best thing I've heard yet about that bungling social secretary. As if the Supreme Being would consent to spend eternity surrounded by a lot of nuns and paupers and par-boiled missionaries, having his lovely concerts ruined by the rattle of spiritual tool boxes and the screams of the faithful, boasting about their crucifixions! What a relief that an enlightened command has finally reached the concierge at the Pearly Gates: "For Heaven's sake, send Me a conversationalist!" '
-- Edward St. Aubyn, At Last, pp. 15-17