Tuesday, January 25, 2011

book review: the gourmet

The Gourmet is written by Muriel Barbery. I received this book as a gift for my 21st birthday. It is about a very famous food critic who is dying. He is trying to remember the best flavour he ever ate, then he thinks he will be able to die in peace. Most of the chapters are reflections about the different things he has eaten throughout his life, but every second chapter is from the perspective of someone in his life. It is revealed through these chapters that he is a terrible bastard and nobody really likes him at all.

the book is written with very descriptive language. at times I found it too dense to enjoy, which is another reason I think it took me so long to read. I read another book by Muriel Barbery last year called The Elegance of the Hedgehog and this was a book I enjoyed. It was more philosophical and contemplative, although similarly crafted. I found that I 'connected with it' more. I was amused to learn that she used the same apartment building setting in both books.

at the end of the book there are questions for discussion which I thought was interesting and unusual. One of the questions is "how significant is the theme of self deception in this story"? I have been trying to work out how that theme fits into the story because frankly that didn't seem to be a prevalent theme at all. Then I thought maybe that I did not read the book properly and wondered if the fact that it took me over a month to read a ~100 page book meant I forgot some of the details about self deception.

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