There are some things I just won’t read. I’m not interested in chick lit, romance, “mainstream” lit or memoirs. I don’t like what’s typically called literary fiction — books about ordinary people doing ordinary things. So when one of my favorite horror writers, Poppy Z. Brite, started writing about food, I couldn’t make myself pick up those books.
I love Brite’s writing. It’s visceral. Her characters are always well realized, and she tells damn good tales. I had heard good things about Liquor, the first of the restaurant books, and I figured, what the hell. I like her writing enough that if I can’t get into the story, I can at least enjoy her skill and talent.
Well, fuck me, it took me two days to plow through Liquor. I stayed up until one AM to finish it. It’s a story about two talented cooks, recently fired from good jobs at a snazzy joint for on-the-job debauchery, who open a restaurant where the entire menu has booze in it. OMG, that cannot be a good book no matter who writes it! Right? Wrong! It’s not my favorite of Brite’s (that’d be Drawing Blood), but it’s good. Yeah, okay, not much actually happens, but I fell in love with Rickey and G-Man (and found myself going “aw” more than once at their affection for each other). And it wasn’t all mundane challenges either. There’s a certain sinister undertone — Rickey and G-Man’s benefactor tapes all his phone conversations and office meetings with implications that he’s got some shit on tape that would do lots of damage; Rickey’s former employer is a coke-head convinced that Rickey is out to ruin him; a murder took place in the building they lease for their restaurant — without which I’m not sure I’d believe Brite wrote the book. She’s got a creepy streak that I really like, and I was surprised and pleased to find it here.
I’ve been burned before by writers I trusted (King’s Gerald’s Game and Delores Clairborn come to mind), so I was prepared for disappointment, not to mention glad I got this out of the library instead of spending money on it. But as it turns out, I can trust Brite. And now I will happily devour whatever else of hers the library has.