What with the recent collapse of horror as a pulp fiction genre and her obvious interest in New Orleans and the restaurant scene, I can see how Poppy Z. Brite got from the gourmet eating of human beings in Exquisite Corpse to the gourmet eating of less reprehensible food and drink in her most recent prose endeavors:
Liquor by Poppy Z. Brite
The premise of the book is quite simple: Longtime friends and lovers Rickey and G-man open a New Orleans restaurant whose menu consists entirely of selections that include alcoholic ingredients. Allies include Lenny, a big name restauarant owner, and their main enemy is Mike Moulon, a drugie whose uncle had been murdered many years before on the premises of what will eventually become our heroes' restauarant. Though I'm sure some will appreciate all of the very authentic and detailed information about restaurant life and food preparation, I was more intrigued by the way Brite was representing the relationship between Rickey and G-man. Though she had written a novel previously that explicated their relationship and early years, I had not read it, so I spent a bit of time in the beginning trying to figure out if they were "just friends" or "lovers." The latter, actually. They even act like they're married. Total fidelity, PLUS they have only ever slept with each other! *And* they go for long stretches where sleeping together means just that. >_< Err...am I convinced? Still trying to decide on that one. I'm really torn about Brite's representation because, on one hand, she never labels them as gay in any way within the context of her prose save through dialogue. And even then, obliquely. It's refreshing to read about characters whose "otherness" isn't paraded before me, as happens quite often even in so-called gay fiction. On the other hand, I was having a bit of trouble convincing myself that these two comfortably gay characters could be so divorced from the gay scene of New Orleans; it just didn't seem realistic, and that lack of realism was jarring when taken in the context of everything else in the novel, which was painstakingly real. I mean, BL or speculative fiction fantasies are one thing, but...yeah, so I'm torn. In any case, the novel is quite easy to read and quickly-finished, though I found that the book was also VERY easy to put down, which is not a good thing. Read if you like books abour restaurants, cooking, food, or New Orleans. Give it a pass if you're looking for great characters or an intriguing love story.