Friday, February 12, 2010
" Gourmet Rapshody", by Muriel Barbery
This novel is quite original, it is richly written to offer a character study of a dying man’s last thoughts. It is a very short novel that provides a mix of philosophy peppered with humour and spiced with culinary vignettes.
The protagonist is Pierre Arthens, a food critic, given forty eight hours to live by his cardiologist. On his death bed surrounded by his dear ones, Pierre makes a desperate effort to reminisce his favourite moments in life, he does so by describing his most passionate experiences in the art of cooking and the ultimate stimulation of ones taste buds.
Of course food is the central point of this novel, Ms Barbery writes eloquently about the gastronomic exuberance of a person that claims to be the best food critic in the world. The rapturous food passages are lusciously mouth-watering. The short chapters are told from various perspectives of Arthens’ entourage (including pets), his doctor, his lovers and Renée (a character in the novel “The Elegance of the Hedgehog“) and how his life has impacted them. The narrative flips back and forth between the bedridden maestro and his friends and their fond memories of the past.
The poetic writing takes the reader on a journey into one of the pleasures of life….