Archive for the ‘Culinary fiction’ Category
The Value of X by Poppy Z Brite:
“That snot-nosed pencil-dick motherfucker. Seriously, Dave, I’m gonna kill him. He might think he’s met some faggots before, but I bet he never met one from the Ninth Ward.”
“Rickey, I know you want to kick Muller’s ass. Hell, I want to kick his ass. But don’t do anything stupid. It’s not worth getting thrown out of school over.”
“You think they’d throw me out?”
“For fighting? Sure. You know we’re supposed to — what is it the dean said at orientation? — ‘conduct ourselves like professional chefs at all times.’”
“I know professional chefs who’d kick his ass over something like this.”
Synopsis: Set before the rest of the Liquorverse, this is the story of how Rickey and G-man knew they were in love when they were sixteen, and how their parents thought they knew better and nearly ruined everything.
I’m not sure I could ever truly hate one of the Liquorverse books; that whole world is so vivid and real to me, such a delicious place to roll my brain around in. These are my comfort books; even just a few pages and the world gets a little bit better.
That said, The Value of X will never be one of my comfort books.
Rickey and plain old Gary Stubbs have been best friends since fourth grade and when they turn sixteen, they both realize they’re in love and, being that that’s something too big to keep from your best friend, act on their feelings. Unfortunately, their parents quickly figure out what they’re up to and become determined to “save” their children from their misguided ways and cook up a scheme that separates the two of them, getting Rickey’s dad to pay for culinary school way the hell out in New York. It’s a tempting offer to Rickey, who already knows he wants to cook for a living, and while the two boys make the best of things, the course of true love never did run smooth. Thankfully, Rickey’s temper, his sense of what’s best for him save the day.
Oh this book. I love Rickey and G-man together. Always have, always will. I love how they figure out how to work with being in love and that they’re so sure of each other at the start. I love the part where G-man is curled up on the sofa sobbing and his mom comforts him, because even though she’s one of the architects of his unhappiness, he’s still her baby. I love all the diners and restaurants and kitchen scenes.
I love how happy it makes Rickey to punch out Muller because I love the disconnect there, that he did what was right for him even though the rest of the world is going to think he fucked up and got kicked out of cooking school (amusingly, the next book on my TBR is Virginia Rich’s The Cooking School Murders.)
I love Rosalie, and I love that she answers the phone when Rickey calls G-man back. I love that she keeps being Rosalie the rest of the series.
I love that Rickey simply doesn’t care he’s gay. I love that Elmer Stubbs is kind of horrified by Brenda’s assertion that being friends with G-man has calmed Rickey down, because I can’t imagine Rickey being more crazed, either.
But it’s because I love all these things so much that I find the rest of the book to be sheer torture. It’s so hard to read about these parents getting all misguidedly involved in their kids’ lives. Like hello, they’re holding down jobs and not doing drugs and they’re happy, so lay off!
At the same time, that I feel so keenly annoyed at the Stubbs and Brenda Rickey that later stories, like “The Feast of St Rosalie” are even more powerful. Brite’s written about how fascinated he’s been by the Stubbs family as a whole, and how they kind of took over their part of the Liquorverse, and I can definitely sense that in this book. They’re painfully realistic.
For the record, my favorite book in the series is D*U*C*K. I know you didn’t need to know that but it’s true. And I think I might be reading that book next, simply to calm down a little from reading this one. Which is probably a measure of how good The Value of X really is.
This entry is really disjointed, isn’t it? That’s very much how I feel after having read this book: disjointed. I know it comes out all right in the end. While I was reading the book, I knew it would come out all right in like, fifty pages or so, but the getting from here to there was torture.
#75: Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter by Phoebe Damrosch:
The gentleman on table twenty-three plans to propose and has arranged for us to deliver a Faberge egg at the end of their meal. Proposals are nerve-racking for everyone involved. While terrified lovers contemplate eternity in sickness, poverty, death, or worse, equally anxious servers imagine ruining what might be the high point of these people’s lives together, before the bankruptcy, the Botox, and his affair with the life coach.
Synopsis: Vermont foodie girl in NYC discovers joy of restaurant work, four-star food. Falls in love. Writes good book.