Look if you’re gonna credit Brett Easton Ellis in the acknowlegements, I better be able to tell what level of irony you are doing that on.
A weird thing about this book is that there is no dramatic tension, deliberately so by construction. A Certain Hunger is the memoir of a self admitted psychopathic food critic who has murdered and eaten parts of several of her lovers over the course of her career, written from her jail cell. This leads to two things being the case – firstly, I knew going in that a series of murders were going to occur, and I knew that the murderess was going to be caught, and secondly, all of the prose is written as if it was being authored by a particularly pretentious critic. Between these two points, they made the book kind of a slog by design, which did not endear me to it. A lot of reading the book lead me to thing “I get why this is happening this way, but it’s just not working for me”, which is not the most glowing recommendation at the best of times.
Set over the course of around twenty years, A Certain Hunger follows the meals of self-admitted psychopath Dorothy Daniels as she eats her way through the men she loves. Dorothy is not as smart or as interesting as she thinks she is, which could be a compelling driver of a fake memoir, except she’s also not as interesting as I suspect the author thinks she is either, which given that the book never leaves her head fundamentally distanced me from it. There is an emotional punch line to the novel that was supposed to land like a ton of bricks, but because the character had been emotionally distanced from both me as the reader and the characters that she was interacting with, it sort of just landed limply for me.
There is an element of the fetishisation of the wealthy at play here, in a voyeuristic way, both in their living, their fashion and their food. I felt invited to ogle at how they lived, how they ate and how they died, but for myself I just find it hard to care about them, I’m not someone who is interested in lavish displays of wealth. I read the book as part of a book club and the group seemed pretty split between those who found the violence cathartic, of rich men getting theirs, and those of us who didn’t who had a generally less favourable view of the book. Given my falling into the latter group, I can’t find myself recommending it.