The Debt To Pleasure Paperback – 7 Mar 1997
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A gorgeous, dark, and sensuous book that is part cookbook, part thriller, part eccentric philosophical treatise, reminiscent of perhaps the greatest of all books on food, Jean-Anthelme Brillat Savarin's The Physiology of Taste. Join Tarquin Winot as he embarks on a journey of the senses, regaling us with his wickedly funny, poisonously opinionated meditations on everything from the erotics of dislike to the psychology of a menu, from the perverse history of the peach to the brutalisation of the palate, from cheese as "the corpse of milk" to the binding action of blood. --Sue Sheph
" The Debt to Pleasure has no flaws. It is witty, frequently hilarious, and wicked." -- "The Boston Globe"See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
That some reviewers found the book disturbing or unsettling seems rather odd. Well-cultured and well-spoken psychopaths are hardly a new phenomenon in either literature or real life, and that's essentially what Tarquin is. It's possible that this disquiet comes from the reader becoming enamored of Tarquin and then finding out his true nature at the very end, but this seems exceedingly unlikely. For all Lanchester's skill, Tarquin's "secret" is fairly evident quite early on, via a number of extremely broad hints, so that readers who are paying any kind of attention will quickly realize that all is not as it might seem. In the end, it's a fairly clever and certainly well-written character study, with a dark secret that is unearthed rather too soon for the book to be entirely satisfactory. Still, it is clear Lanchester is a writer worth watching.
For the expansion, take one novel closely related to cooking and read. Do try the recipes, but proceed with care. Cook things right through before committing to taste. John Lanchester's The Debt to Pleasure is my recommendation. It's a highly original, highly informative cookbook written by one Tarquin Winot, an expert in the field.
In one of the most original books I have ever read, John Lanchester creates a real anti-hero. Too often the concept is ironed onto a character who is just a naughty boy doing naughty, often repulsive things, the concept of "hero" being often ignored. Tarquin Winot, the anti-hero of The Debt to Pleasure, is a brilliant and learned cook. He is also highly creative, using ingredients that only those who might cook with a purpose would choose to use. He is also something of a psychopath, perhaps. That is for you to judge. But he has survived to write his cookbook and apparently savours his retirement, courtesy of those he has fed.
The Debt to Pleasure is a superb novel.Read more ›
Tarquin Wynot, the narrator, is an erudite, snobbish, foodie, psychopathic murderer. Sounds a bit 'Silence of the Lambs'? Not really. Wynot bumps people off for a variety of reasons but never just for fun. His fun he gets from the food and wine he so meticulously describes throughout the novel.
Like Tarquin's cooking, the prose is a fanciful, indulgent, and showy. Often fantastically funny, with a swift pace that still takes time for plenty of impressive asides, I found this unputdownable not necessarily because I wanted to know what happened next, but because I was enjoying myself too much. It is the literary equivalent of a meal in a very good but self-consciously experimental restaurant. You may not want to eat there everyday, you may think some of the combinations were a bit over the top, but you have to admit it was dazzling.
Finally, it is telling that when Lanchester published 'Capital' to much critical fanfare in 2012, this was the book, despite being his first novel and published in the nineties, that several reviewers held up as the measure of his full abilities. Unfortunately, I don't think he's lived up to the potential of 'The Debt to Pleasure' so far, but then it's a very high standard to have set yourself! If you enjoy 'The Debt to Pleasure', the meatier, more homely 'Mr. Phillips' is not a bad second course.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Entertaining read-have been reading John Lanchester novels recently, and this being his first novel of fiction. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Teasel
John Lanchester’s 1996 debut novel is quite unlike anything else that I have read. Written in the form of a 'food menu’ and following the episodic life of food junkie and snob,... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Keith M
Pompous verbosity is what springs to mind. I am not the least bit interested in culinary acrobatics, so that bit bored me to tears. Read morePublished 10 months ago by E H H Cull
disappointed to find that this was an ex-library stock with discarded by such and such library stamped inside and obviously read by many people, I wish this had been pointed out at... Read morePublished 10 months ago by MRS C A EGLINGTON
Arrived super fast and in pristine condition. I chose this as having been strongly recommended by Alexander Armstrong on Annie's book review program. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Autumnalred
A bit disappointing as it was recommended by Alexander Armstrong.
it was quite amusing in places, and i confess entertaining as a book, but i expected it to be more... Read more
I really enjoyed this book, right from the beginning to its - by now - expected end. Once you realise that this is not a cookbook in the usual sense you can gorge on the language,... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Tessa Warburg