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The Devil's Larderby Jim Crace
"Jim Crace is one of the best novelists in Britain; in the United States he is hardly known. His work doesn't clamor for attention, like Martin Amis's and Salman Rushdie's; nor does it draw one in with conventional, reader-friendly narratives, like Pat Barker's and Ian McEwan's. On the contrary, its muted rhythms require a certain engagement from the reader, a willingness to read more slowly, to listen harder. Those who do so will be rewarded with fiction that is thoughtful, harmonic, and original. Crace never squanders a word or an image." Brooke Allen, The Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)
"My point is not merely that Crace's new book is bad, but rather that in its exclusively banal view of life, death, sex, and art, in its solemn pseudo-minimalist belief that any trivial detail, earnestly presented, is filled with significance, and in its reference librarian's elevation of facts to totems, it is so bad that I began to suspect that Crace might actually have talent." Dale Peck, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
Synopses & Reviews
A sumptuous, scintillating stew of sixty four short fictions about appetite, food, and the objects of our desire
All great meals, it has been said, lead to discussions of either sex or death, and The Devil's Larder, in typical Cracean fashion, leads to both. Here are sixty four short fictions of at times Joycean beauty--about schoolgirls hunting for razor clams in the strand; or searching for soup-stones to take out the fishiness of fish but to preserve the flavor of the sea; or about a mother and daughter tasting food in one another's mouth to see if people really do taste things differently--and at other times, of Mephistophelean mischief: about the woman who seasoned her food with the remains of her cremated cat, and later, her husband, only to hear a voice singing from her stomach (you can't swallow grief, she was advised); or the restaurant known as "The Air & Light," the place to be in this small coastal town that serves as the backdrop for Crace's gastronomic flights of fancy, but where no food or beverage is actually served, though a 12 percent surcharge is imposed just for just sitting there and being seen.
Food for thought in the best sense of the term, The Devil's Larder is another delectable work of fiction by a 2001 winner of The National Book Critics Circle Award.
"One of the brightest lights in contemporary British fiction." Charles Johnson, The New York Times Book Review
"Crace's previous novel, Quarantine, won the Whitbread Award, and Being Dead won a National Book Critics Circle Award. His latest is a diversion, but its subject matter and elegant jacket art may appeal to those who know Crace by reputation but were scared away by the grimmer themes of Quarantine and Being Dead." Publishers Weekly
"What makes Crace such a remarkable writer and The Devil's Larder such a compelling exercise is the ways he has of verging on the ridiculous....Even by Crace's standards, The Devil's Larder is an extraordinary book." Adam Phillips, New York Times Book Review
"While recalling Donald Barthelme's 40 Stories, the fictions also borrow from Primo Levi's The Periodic Table and Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, though their fragmentary range, and mischievous, smirking delights, are characteristically Crace's....Disquieting yet somehow affirming, this is poetic manna for the imaginative soul, and if not from heaven, then from an even more tempting, voluptuous recess." David Vincent, The Guardian
"A great writer of whimsical, fastidious, poetic prose... What makes Crace such a remarkable writer and The Devil's Larder such a compelling exercise is the ways he has of verging on the ridiculous....Like Kafka's parables or Borges's ficciones, the logic on offer makes people sound and look entirely plausible to themselves, while something more frantic, ridiculous and doomed is lurking round the corner....Even by Crace's standards, The Devil's Larder is an extraordinary book." Adam Phillips, New York Times Book Review
"Crace is adept at creating unexpected worlds. In this tasty little collection, he has created many — 64, to be exact. From the grandmother who tears off a bit of dough 'for the angel' to the adventurers who risk a tiresome, slightly surreal hike to dine at an inexplicably famous restaurant to the manager who devises an ultimately self-defeating means of keeping his waiters from sampling what they are serving. Crace's tales all concern the relationship between people and food. Quirky, unsettling, and sometimes slightly macabre...they are little scenes that capture the oddness of being human from a particular angle." Library Journal
About the Author
Jim Crace is the author, most recently, of Quarantine, which won the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award, and Being Dead, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. He lives in Birmingham, England.
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