THE FOOD CHAIN by Geoff Nicholson


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 Kinky food and sex games are the stuff of this high-energy black comedy from the British Nicholson, his fifth novel but first US publication. Virgil Marcel is flying to London as a guest of the ancient and mysterious Everlasting Club. Virgil is the obnoxious, spoiled rotten son of Frank Marcel, founder of the Golden Boy chain, Howard Johnson-like restaurants in California; the only work he's done since college is to revamp his father's one fancy restaurant, now the last word in L.A. chic. In London, a black chauffeur, Butterworth, drives Virgil blindfolded to the club, where his host Kingsley, an upper-class twit, explains the club's tradition of ``indulging in excess.'' Virgil eats and drinks with the same swinish abandon as the other members, all male, but gets into trouble when he French-kisses the naked girl who is the motionless table decoration. So begins this story of gastronomic and erotic debauch; Nicholson cuts between England (where Virgil will be kidnapped by the sexy dinner-table centerpiece, then rescued by the God-fearing Butterworth) and California, where Frank, in the course of investigating his wife's supposed infidelity, discovers his prized chef Leo ejaculating into the sauces. Nicholson sustains a tone of campy menace (by now there's a whiff of cannibalism in the air) as he brings all these characters to London in a plot that zigs and zags entertainingly, though with increasing improbability. Even more troubling, though, are the factual accounts of gastronomic and other excesses interspersed throughout. Aside from the borderline tackiness of linking those notorious modern cannibals, the Andean crash survivors, to the high jinks of the club, these passages suggest authorial obsessions run amok. Spicy fare, though some may find the aftertaste disagreeable.

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1993
ISBN: 0-87951-508-2
Page count: 184pp
Publisher: Overlook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1993


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