Words In: Liquor by Poppy Z. Brite

I’ve long been familiar with Brite’s horror genre work of the 1990s, but more recently have heard good things about Liquor and its sequels. This series concerns a couple of New Orleans boys (Ricky and G-Man) who dream of making the leap from restaurant cooks to restaurant owners, rough-edged, hard-drinking guys with a lot of attitude, sort of a fictional counterpart to Anthony Bourdain’s popular memoir Kitchen Confidential. The idea always sounded fun to me… and it is. Engaging, easy to read, and full of attitude and energy.

Brite is (or was at the time she started this series) in a relationship with an up-and-coming chef. One noteworthy element of Liquor is the believability of the insider’s point of view on the world of the restaurant chef. The “behind the scenes” aspect feels realistic, intimately detailed, and gives an idea of the weird mix of aspects inherent in the world of the chef: Rock star glamor on one hand, and on the other a gritty blue-collar kind of toil filled with sweat, burns, blisters and backache.

Liquor cover

I enjoyed the New Orleans atmosphere, and found Brite’s writing straightforward and clear. The “restaurant insider” stuff, as mentioned, is fascinating as well. The real draw to these books is the characters, not only Ricky and G-Man (lifelong best friends, roommates, and also lovers, though within the story they’re just starting to be more open with everyone about this latter aspect) but also their friends, cohorts, business collaborators, and the various nut jobs and assholes who provide obstacles along the way.

It’s easy to see why Brite gained so many devoted readers with this series, and also why her long-time readership mostly didn’t seem to mind this giant leap in style and subject matter from her early goth-weird-horror work. This is well-crafted fiction of the sort most readers will find enjoyable, perhaps a 4-star rating out of 5. Those with an interest in the restaurant business, the art of cuisine, or New Orleans as a setting should find even more to like, and rate it more highly.

Lately I Read Faster Than I Review

Usually I read a book or two, then review a book or two. The pace is steady. I don’t normally read so much that I get behind on reviewing what I’ve read.

Now I’m behind.

Set some things aside to read The Croning (see last blog post) and decided it’s time to start catching up, so I reviewed that one as soon as I finished it.

I’m pretty close to the end of Immobility by Brian Evenson, so I’ll have to do that one too.

Then there are all these I read and haven’t reviewed yet:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

In the Mean Time by Paul Tremblay

Liquor by Poppy Z. Brite

The Body Artist by Don Delillo

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

…LIES….Thunder….ashes… by Joseph S. Pulver Sr.

The Wet Nurse by Mike Dubisch

It’s worth saying that the lack of recent reviews is not at all due to lack of enthusiasm about what I’ve been reading. On the contrary. There’s some great stuff here, lots of 4 and 5 star reviews coming up. I have a lot I want to say about these!