Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Ms. Lori Eat Book: Liquor by Poppy Z. Brite

Well, I could...If I were starving to death. See, there are crumblets of meals past sprinkled throughout the pages of this particular book -- roast beef, gravy, honey mustard and ham. There are smears of Little Debbie cake cream filling and garlic butter, a dab of marinara here, ricotta there.

I usually respect my books, abhor food specks, bent pages, cracked spines as much as the next bibliophile (which is why I no longer lend my books to a certain family member -- she regularly returned my babies sullied with liverwurst), but something about Liquor made me to throw caution to the savory wind and munch down while at the same time devouring chapter after delectable chapter -- yes, I pigged out. Shamelessly gorged myself without care, and it was right, and it was good. I became decadent, gluttonous, ignored all protocol and dove right in, face first.

I dare anyone who loves food the way I do to open this novel and not immediately crave something thick and saucy.

Poppy Z. Brite has written something of real substance here -- it's not a tiny morsel able to sit on a Ritz, it's a multi-course meal that pleases with its many textures and nuances, fills and satisfies without that heavy, bloated feeling.

Set in present day New Orleans, Ms. Brite, a native and long time resident herself, deftly presents her protagonists without blatant introduction and needless exposition -- I enjoy it when an author can make a character come alive without shouting, "Hey! Look at me! I have brown hair and blue eyes, with a handsome cleft in my chin, and I'm kinda sarcastic, yet sympathetic, and I really, really hate Joe, the secondary character, and..."

No, Ms. Brite allows the reader to acquaint themselves slowly, naturally, lets us form our own images and sounds, yet controls with expert ability, just exactly how her reader will interpret that image.

Rickey and G-man, the two main characters, are not the most likable at first. First impression may be one of pity or disdain -- unmotivated losers drinking their lives away. But as we delve deeper into their world, we see that they are anything but losers, and certainly far from unmotivated. They have a plan, even if they don't know it yet. Part of the fun of this story is discovering that plan right along with Rickey and G-man, sweating it out with them, celebrating with them. Oh, and eating with them. Always the eating. Scrumptious, colorful descriptions are to be found on almost every page, whether it be sautéing, rolling doughs, seasoning meat, or simply sitting down to a table heaped with yummy things so vivid, my tongue wept. I learned a great deal, too, another thing I appreciate -- I love it when I discover facts or new information via narrative. Here, for my own amusement, are a few things I learned while reading Liquor:

1) I must -- and I mean must -- try truffles before I die. Italian ones.

2) New Orleans can be a dangerous place to visit if you're a clueless idiot with a stick up your ass.

3) Never, ever pronounce New Orleans as "Noooo Orleeens."

4) It takes a shitload of time to prepare fava beans.

5) I'm not alone in hating salad preparation. The best chefs in the world also hate it.

6) Chefs use a nifty little puree wand to make soups. I desperately want one.

&) My kitchen is a disgrace, full of dull knives from Wal-Mart and scratched pots and pans that were hand-me-downs from my mother, stolen from ex-boyfriends, or "losers weepers" (casserole dishes and glass serving plates left by former guests who I'll never see again).

7) I'm not a drunk or a food hog -- I'm a bon vivant.

8) Gay men in long-term relationships suffer from the "Too Busy to Have Sex" syndrome, too. Oh, and they don't all toss their hair and flap their hands like little birds when excited about something.

Aw, I'm being silly with much of this list, but I did learn many things, you know, surprising facts and tidbits that delighted and intrigued me. And who knew that the restaurant business could be so freaky? I'd always thought of chefs as being sort of geeky, but I feel differently now. I'm even a little afraid of them, if you want to know the truth.

In summation, Liquor is good eatin'. I give it five pork medallions out of five.


At 9:24 PM, Blogger docbrite said...

Wow, thanks for the nice review, Ms. Lori (I found you through Feedster)! If I had an extra puree wand, I'd send it to you. Hope you'll check out the followup, PRIME, coming out in March.

At 1:20 PM, Blogger docbrite said...

I tried to post this last night, but Blogger seems to have eaten it, so I'll try again:

Wow! Thanks for the nice review, Ms. Lori. If I had an extra puree wand, I'd send it to you.

"Chef" is about the toughest, hardest-working, most profane, least geeky occupation I can think of, right up there with "offshore oil platform worker," "bouncer at a shitkicker music club in Bakersfield," "army surgeon," etc.

At 2:06 PM, Blogger Ms. Lori said...

You are so very welcome. As you can tell, I *really* enjoyed Liquor, and am now on a hunt for The Value of X.

Looking forward to Prime, too!

I hadn't read a novel in months prior to Liquor (bad Ms. Lori), but now I'm back in the saddle. Oh, how I missed getting lost in a good book...


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