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Cooking with Fernet Branca Paperback – September 1, 2005
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Provokes a sort of indecorous involuntary laughter Imagine a British John Waters crossed with David Sedaris. -- The New York Times Book Review
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Top Customer Reviews
This was the one book that all the ordinary reviewers agreed on as being a pure delight to read. I tend to the view that all Booker books are so very "literary", with such scant regard to minor details as interesting characters, plot and story progresssion as to be near unreadable. So this was SUCH a pleasant surprise (as was the eventual winner "The Line Of Beauty" another recommended, highly readable novel.)
So acidly funny that I laughed out loud frequently and raced thru' it to (regretfully) finish the novel in two days.
The characters of Gerry and Marta are complete grotesques and the satirical and accurate sideswipes at such targets as pretentious film directors, modern "celebrities" and the Tuscan idyll memoir are mordantly witty. A joy!
Essentially a satire on the travel memoir genre, 'Cooking' is the story of Gerald and Marta, a pair of ill matched neighbours who live in a tiny village in the Tuscan hills. He is a English snob who ghostwrites for a living and cooks implausible recipes (thoughtfully included, but not recommended!!) as a vocation. Marta is an East European composer of film scores.
The story is told be each of the characters in turn (each in the first person) as their lives become increasingly and reluctantly intertwined.
You will guess the ending long before it arrives, but it won't matter at all. You'll be laughing too hard to care!
Beautifully written and highly recommended.
It is an outrageously comic commentary on a wide variety of subjects such as filmmaking, possible explanations for UFO-sightings, rebels from ex-Soviet bloc countries, and so on.
Gerald being a self-professed "great cook" creates these ridiculous tongue-in-cheek recipes like "Chocolate coated and deep-fried mussels" with a perfectly straight face. Extraordinary quantities of Fernet Branca, a bitter Italian liqueur, is drunk throughout by all the characters, and all of Gerald's recipes contain Fernet Branca, giving the book its incongruous title.
Here we have a disaffected Brit, self-satisfied fortyish Gerald Samper, whose job it is to ghost-write autobiographies of egregious celebrities from the sports world. Repairing to Tuscany and buying what he thinks is a secluded house, Gerald settles down to write and to pursue his two REAL avocations: cooking (and the recipes are unlike any you are ever likely to see, from smoked cat to udders with butterscotch sauce, listed with a completely straight face) and singing opera.
Into Gerald's idyll comes an unlikely neighbor: Marta, from a fictional Slavic country--she of the wiry hair dutifully brushed each night with goose grease, large peasant body and strange eastern european tastes...such as kasha dumplings the size of a small planet, washed down, of course, with the ubiquitous "Fernet Branca," rather lethal in its effect.
Marta is a composer, hired to write the score for a Fellini-like director who may or may not be creating the porn film of all time--nobody is sure.
Alternating voices, the author takes us into the decidedly strange minds of Gerald and Marta, first one and then the other, as we see events unfold from each of their points of view.
I could hardly read for laughing, there were times when I laughed until the tears came. I cannot recommend this incredibly brilliant romp highly enough. Do yourself a favor and read it while sipping some wine...and possibly dining on fresh otter. Always a treat!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
this was amusing and kept me guessing about what those people would do next -- I enjoyed seeing the perspective of the main characters from their point of viewPublished 19 months ago by Amazon Customer
The book is wonderfully hilarious. Fernet Branca has become a favorite joke in our family. (I am afraid that our children gave us a whole great big bottle of it! Read morePublished 23 months ago by Susan Walenta
Humorous with lots of literary vocabulary. Well-written with interesting scenarios. Gag-induced recipes are a well placed dig on some esoteric ones coming from cutting edge chefs.Published on December 21, 2013 by Roger
A coworker recommended this to me, and I completely don't get it. Had to put it down because the characters were so irritating.Published on December 2, 2013 by Sabbies
I purchased this on the recommendation of a friend; before I had a chance to read it, my sister absconded with it. Read morePublished on August 18, 2013 by Shawn Sudia-Skehan
I read this and then read the next two books in the series in rapid succession. This series is witty, funny, sometimes deep, generally absurd, and always like very few other things... Read morePublished on July 10, 2013 by BP15