A vivid, magnificent debut, with a soundtrack by Iron Maiden.
Winner, Amazon First Novel Award
Vivid and moving.
Reads like a cross between the dearly departed Anthony Bourdain and Stephanie Danler’s Sweetbitter, combining the complicated life of a kitchen wretch with a highly literate voice…hypnotizing.”
The accumulation of detail over several galloping pages creates immersive scenes of sensory and affective precision.
Shines most brightly in its indoor scenes describing shifts in the kitchen. Here Larue’s prose – flinty and precise in Strauss’s translation – becomes utterly propulsive, its effects mesmerizing.
A perfectly crafted story...
I take a sip of my Tremblay. The taste of moist grain fills my mouth. Bébert’s keeping one eye on the hockey game, and one hand on his big bottle of beer. He has tattoos all the way down to his fingers now, and his hands have grown fatter, hands inscribed with the scars of twenty years in the kitchen, burned daily and gouged by wayward oyster shuckers and subjected to malevolent blades severing tiny chunks of fingertip; thousands of shifts spent shelling, peeling, dicing, stirring, gutting, deboning, and chopping; the never-ending repetitive handling of foods raw and cooking and cooked; the infinite cycle of frying pans and scouring stainless counters with steel wool and industrial-strength degreasers.
We had to back up to keep from being sucked into the mosh pit. When “Hangar 18” came on, she really went crazy. She jumped into the melee, climbed over the swirl of bodies smashing into each other, then let herself be swept along by the crowd, tumbling over the human sea all the way to the foot of the stage. I followed behind her, flabbergasted. As the mosh pit grew bigger it sucked me up in its undertow and the craziness and I tapped into the mania swirling all around me. I was in a trance.
There was no up, no down. I couldn’t tell where my body ended; I’d become part of this rocky, roaring wave of sound and sweating bodies.
“Another one wants work out on the floor? Your buddy Dave never stopped bugging Maude to see if he could train out front.”
I imagined wearing fitted shirts, tight pants and pointy polished shoes, tiptoeing across the floor with my hand full of dishes, kowtowing to customers. Even making peanuts, the dishpit seemed the more attractive option.
“Nah, not for me.”
“Yeah, didn’t think so.”
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