The narrator and most important character of “A Certain Hunger” is a hot food stuff critic named Dorothy Daniels. When the novel opens she’s sitting down by itself at the bar of the NoMad Hotel in Manhattan, sipping an Absinthe cocktail termed The Corpse Reviver #2 — “an beautiful drink that sits on the lintel of anarchy.” Dorothy, who’s a preternaturally sizzling babe of 51, is there to decide up a bed husband or wife. Before long enough, a very likely younger person named Casimir sends in excess of a consume and “slid[es] off his chair, clean as a pat of butter oozing from a pile of sizzling flapjacks.” Ahead of extensive the pair are ensconced in his lodge home, accomplishing the horizontal hula. They fulfill up commonly following that, until finally the night time that Dorothy plunges an ice decide on into Casimir’s throat and — how shall I say this politely? — indulges in her secret starvation for organ meats.
I warned you that you could possibly be grossed out.
“A Specified Hunger” would be an quick turnoff (this scene with Casimir usually takes location in the opening chapter of the novel) have been it not for Summers’s romping way with terms. Dorothy speaks like Humbert Humbert and behaves like Hannibal Lecter. It is that Humbert-like voice — the flair for new imagery, ornate vocabulary and sly humor — that lures visitors into this vile debut novel. For instance, here’s a single of Dorothy’s additional philosophical musings as she’s sipping her cocktail in the resort bar: “Hotels are like coach vacation, like early- early morning pillow speak with a stranger. They permit you to occupy a house which is caught in indefiniteness.” Or take into account Dorothy’s boastings about how she avoided receiving a “bad rep” when sleeping all-around in university:
“You’d believe that owning sex with . . . many youthful adult males — a group whose predilection for gossip helps make retired Mahjong gamers seem like Cistercian monks — I’d get a poor track record. But I’d been thorough . . . I didn’t [sleep with] any individual I couldn’t ruin. My philosophy has generally been that if you seem really hard plenty of, you will come across anything wicked on just about each and every person. ”
I’ve had to thoroughly clean up Dorothy’s language because she can be rather raw. Summers’s author bio identifies her as “a columnist for the now defunct Grownup magazine” plainly her track record as a author of erotica will come in helpful listed here in devising the acrobatic array of cartilage snapping couplings that Dorothy enjoys with an global menu of adult men, amid them: the aforementioned Casimir, a Russian Andrew, an American and Giovanni, an Italian. Tasty beefcake all.
In common noir suspense type, Dorothy retrospectively narrates her vocation as a libertine, foods critic, assassin and recreational cannibal from prison, so we readers know from the outset that she’s not in a position to skip out on the karmic dinner invoice, so to speak. But another point that can make Dorothy so likable — even with her grotesque cravings — is that she’s not a complainer. She cheerfully assures us: “It’s not as perilous as I considered it would be, prison. . . . Just just after I to start with arrive, two females — what do they say — acquired all up in my facial area. It was type of lovely, truly. . . . They cornered me as I was exiting the shower I appeared down at them . . . and advised them that I’d killed a gentleman with a piece of fruit. I allow that assertion sit, and I observed their minimal wonder about their possess personal and unpleasant Achilles heels.”
For the duration of jail viewing hrs, Dorothy entertains a parade of psychology and criminal justice pupils who want to interview her for their doctoral dissertations. (“It was pleasant to be so avidly courted by so a lot of keenly intrigued young things. I felt like the belle of the carceral ball.”) Dorothy toys with them, as she does with us, laying the seductive sauciness on thick as she reminisces about her distant mothers and fathers, her lucky crack into cafe examining, her sexual initiation in the slick arms of a teenage fry-cook, and the amoral curiosity that pushed her in excess of the greatest culinary line. The suspense of “A Specified Hunger” derives from watching how Dorothy concocts and then, for a time, gets away with, at any time additional elaborate — and occasionally hilarious — approaches of murdering her victims so that their fatalities glimpse organic (inspite of the odd lacking liver or rump).
“A Selected Hunger” is distasteful, but it’s also naughty, witty and inventive. It could go away a negative taste in your mouth, but — compared with the slew of “Gone Girl” knockoffs that clog the offerings of suspense fiction these times — it will not bore you.
Maureen Corrigan, who is the e-book critic for the NPR application “Fresh Air,” teaches literature at Georgetown University.
A Particular Starvation
Unnamed Push. 237 pp. $26