Book Review: A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers

Book Review: A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers

. 2 min read

Hungry, horny, horrified describe how I felt reading Summers' debut novel about a food critic with criminally lustful appetites. Dorothy Daniels, the seductive, villainous protagonist-narrator, writes this fictitious tell-all memoir about her life of unchecked gluttony from her prison cell. "I skinned it, trussed it, rubbed it with olive oil, red wine, thyme, lemon, garlic and salt ... I made a delicious Bordeaux reduction sauce, and I served the roast with crisped Yukon Gold potatoes, caramelized shallots, and sauteed asparagus," she records. "Thus I became a serial killer." The rump roast to which she refers is that of a former lover with whom she had previously enjoyed copious helpings of flavorful sex. Notably, her descriptions of eating her lovers afterward are more sensual than her depictions of eating them during sex, which serve primarily as instructional foreplay.

Dorothy is a radical psychopath in the vein of Amy Dunne from Gone Girl (by Gillian Flynn), and her unrestrained appetites provide the lense through which we can consider the restraints on women's appetites generally, for food, sex and everything else. She is irresistible herself, if unreliable, as a narrator and I often wondered whether she was bullshitting us. Which was part of the fun. Salacious, darkly humorous and highly offensive (deliciously so), read A Certain Hunger if you love Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Reichl and can stomach Hannibal Lecter. A rump roast will never taste the same.

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