6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Debt To Pleasure (Paperback)
A satisfying and enriching piece of fiction that masquerades as epicurean travel writing by John Lanchester's mouthpiece, Tarquin Winot. It combines in a not-ashamed-to-be-clever way the duplicitous use of language, wit, and a layering of genre that can only make one smile as one catches on to an understanding of where the story is leading one. To begin with Tarquin seems to be following the Elizabeth David route through gastronomy, then as his persona with its formative cast of characters takes shape and gleams through his web of self-deluding conceits the reader realises that his purpose is not so much amusingly absurd as absurdly sinister. The theory and philosophy of art is dealt with by the way, but the climax is not so much the (presumably) successful outcome of the murder plot, as a deeply pessimistic rejection of art's relevance to our current times. Tarquin explanation of his motives left this reader taken aback and groping for Balzac, Zola, Proust for reassurance that art and literature are still our best way of making sense of the world in the face of evil.