18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
If music be the food of love - let's eat it,
This review is from: The Devil's Larder (Hardcover)
My thoughts when only a brief way through The Devil's Larder were that it would be easy pickings. Short bursts of prose, 64 "chapters" in 190 pages meaning that none outstays its welcome. And as always Crace's legends had the tang of truth to them, which displayed considerable talent as they are two removes from truth - myths which aren't even real myths. Very moreish.
Or so I thought. Picking it up again after an unnatural hiatus brought on by the World Trade Center attack - when books were put down, and TV became *the thing* - I'm afraid The Devil's Larder finally turned to ashes in my mouth. I could say, accurately, that reading gluttonous, lustful, avaricious prose seemed somehow fraudulent in the immediate aftermath, but I admit that even on its own undoubted merits, my enthusiasm for it was beginning to wane. Despite Crace's pre-emptive protests that The Devil's Larder is a novel because it has "unity of theme, unity of style, unity of setting - everything except unity of character," I know a glorified (albeit glorious) book of stories when I see it. And I'm looking at one right now.
However hard you try, it's hard to make people want to read 64 "chapters" in a row - ranging from two words to 10 pages - without either a plot to follow or at least one character to root for, frown upon or squirm with. The problem with The Devil's Larder is that, although some of the stories do contain interesting twists or developments, they're all narrated effectively in parenthesis, the kind of thing that would usually be one character's aside or prehistory, swagged in subquotation marks. There is, to appropriate a crashingly obvious food metaphor (but at least applaud me for keeping them to a minimum), nothing to get your teeth into. At least it's only waffer-theen and won't detain you long.
The Devil's Larder then is fine in small doses, is (what the hell) an aperitif, an appetizer of bite-size chunks for the main courses of Arcadia, Quarantine, Signals of Distress and Being Dead. Chow down on those instead.