THE DEVIL'S LARDER is a cumulative novel in sixty-four parts, all on the subject of food. Crace's readers might learn that little is to be trusted about food from these hilarious, delightful and subversive ingredients, but they will encounter a startling and touching patchwork portrait of a community where meals are served with lashings of passion and recipes come spiced with unexpected challenges and hopes.
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Jim Crace remains one of the most individual and elegant writers at work today. His books customarily defy category and the new one, The Devil's Larder, is no exception. The cover shows a sensuous female mouth crammed full of berries, with the juice running down her chin and the book's attitude to food is correspondingly erotic. The concept of a literary feast (i.e., a novel in which food is central to the structure) is not new but has never been handled with the sheer imagination and indulgence we find here.
This is a cumulative novel in 64 parts, in which the reader's cultural, culinary and sexual appetites are fully catered for in a discursive, episodic narrative. There is no plot as such, more a vividly realised series of anecdotes in which the briefly appearing characters come to life before our eyes through the indulgence of their various appetites. In these pages, a whole community and its varied inhabitants are vividly conjured by evocative fragments that coalesce into a rich tapestry. The reader may not always be sure about what is going on but the journey is highly pleasurable. We are invited to a restaurant that offers dishes going far beyond the borders of good taste; we can sample the delights of blind pie, a dish created for revenge; and we may try the fruit of the love-leaf tree that can do wonders for a relationship. The language has a Nabokov-like precision and resonance (although the refusal to deliver a straightforward narrative recalls Borges):
The atmosphere is sexual. We're in the brothel's waiting room. The menu's yet to be paraded. We do not speak. We simply wait and hike and climb. We are aroused...-- Barry Forshaw Review:
A cumulative novel in 64 dark, unsettling tales through which Crace explores our foibles through our relationship with food. A critically acclaimed patchwork portrait of a community where meals are served with lashings of passion and recipes come spiced with unexpected challenges and hopes.
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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd 2002-07-04, London, 2002. paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 9780140276411
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