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Debt To Pleasure, The: A Novel Paperback – Mar 22 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks (March 22 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805051309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805051308
  • Product Dimensions: 18.5 x 12.4 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,467,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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3.9 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An outstanding writer whose style is fluent and challenging. A sense of vocabulary that is undervalued in current society. His later works are equally rewarding
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Zachary Smith on Feb. 27 2000
Format: Paperback
This book impressed me first and formeost as the work of a Nabokov wannabe. The "unreliable narrator" ploy, the protagonist who is, at least in his own eyes, too good for this world, the slow unveiling of horror within a texture of polite erudition and so on all felt deeply familiar from the moment i picked up the book and it didn't take long to figure out where I'd run across them before. That said, my advice to Mr. Lanchester is, "Nice try John, keep workin' on it but... keep your day job."
I remember meeting a man called Alexis once on the island of Hydra. He was handsome, charming, witty and international. He had lived all over the world and had, to quote Roy Batty, "seen things you people wouldn't believe." He was instantly likeable and almost everyone in the gentle crowd of artists, rock stars, hippies and vacationing literati swirling around him liked him immensely in spite of the fact that, once you got to know him a bit, you realized that he was a cold-blooded, mercenary killer who specialized in working for governments engaged in the dirtiest of wars - Angola, Brazil, Chile and so on. Reading "Lolita" is a little like spending an afternoon with Alexis. The texture of the experience is so rich and luxurious, the pacing and plotting so deft that you are willing to forgive your companion almost anything just as long as you can continue to bask in the glow of the encounter. By contrast, reading "The Debt to Pleasure" is a bit like a first date with someone who turns out to be exasperating, self-absorbed and, in the end, not particularly interesting. By the end of the first chapter "A Winter Menu" there was, I'll admit, a bit of intrigue left.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Matthew M. Yau on June 19 2003
Format: Paperback
Do you know that word "barbecue" originates from Haitian "barbacado" that refers to a rack-frame system leaving off the ground a bed? Do you know that tomatoes, if imminently picked and allowed to ripe during transport, will turn plasticky and insipid? Do you know that the thickness requirement in preserving the juice in barbecued meat is an inch to 3 inches? Have you ever wondered why starch (such as rice) and fruits, and not a glass of iced water, serve to subdue the spiciness of curry?
John Lanchester's The Debt of Pleasure not only deftly answers all the above questions but also, in impeccable and painfully beguiling prose, embraces his readers into the world of Tarquin Winot. Strictly speaking, the book, which is nothing more than a scrumptious culinary reflection in thoughtful menus arranged by the seasons, cannot be deemed as a work of fiction if Winot is a real chef. From his menus, which embody different cultures, capture a man's psychology and thus his impulse to order, and witness the come-and-go of dining trends; Winot related the story of his life to the preparations of food.
The writing is as insatiating and titillating as the menus. Winot retreated to southern France and reminisced, papered his thoughts on the subject of food that evoked his childhood, his parents, his brother Barthomelow the artist, the beloved maidservant Mary-Theresa, and the home cook Mitthaug. Aroma of a particular dish could graciously tug his memory and coalesce the disparate locations of Winot's upbringing. Woven into his painfully and haughtily opinionated meditations on food was disheartening anecdotes of his family. His brother struggled as an artist who, like other artists in history, never felt adequately attended to for his work and died a tragic death of fungus poisoning.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on Sept. 5 2001
Format: Paperback
This book both enthralled me, and gave me the chills. It was much like reading "The Silence of the Lambs" from the point of view of Hannibal. You know, "I HAD to kill the census worker, his liver just went SO WELL with fava beans and chianti."
Reading the other customer reviews, I both loved and hated the book. I could agree with points on both sides. I'm not sure whether this means that it is a truly gifted book, or that I'm really twisted....
I'm sure that I would have liked it much more if I had had a knowledge of French or French cuisine. Some of the names of dishes he mentioned in passing would probably have added to the wit of the book if I had known what they were. I can understand what a pate is, but some of the more convoluted dish names had me saying "What the heck is that?"
Well worth the time and effort to read if you can get through the dense and convoluted prose.
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Format: Paperback
I was able to read this little book for my book club. Not being of the literary ilk, at first I found it rather hard to read. As I settled into it though, I found that I thoroughly enjoyed this wicked little tome about a murderous gourmet. It was delicious, adroit, delectable, and pretentious, but it certainly was not banal nor mundane.
Well, one of the reasons I really liked this book was its big words, and I was able to use my little grey cells. Read it if you want a tasty experience!
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