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Liquor: A Novel Paperback – March 16, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As much a love letter to the Big Easy as it is to the demanding (and sometimes debauched) lifestyle of a chef, horror maven Brite's (Lost Souls) first foray into the trendy genre of foodie lit is a winsome entree. New Orleans natives and lovers John Rickey and Gary "G-man" Stubbs, affable characters from Brite's recent coming-of-age/coming-out tale The Value of X, decide to capitalize on Rickey's brainchild of opening a restaurant with a "whole menu based on liquor." Word passes through the gossipy Nola restaurant scene that two up-and-comers have a hot concept but no money, and soon enough, Rickey and G-man find themselves backed by celebrity chef Lenny Duveteaux, known as "the Nixon of the New Orleans restaurant world" for his habit of taping his phone conversations. At first doubtful of Lenny's motives, the two come to regard him as a mentor even as they question some of his choices. In one of the many conflicts that Brite embroils her main characters (all of which are fun but not too convincing), the yats (colloquial for natives) have to fend off increasingly threatening actions from Rickey's former boss, cokehead Mike Mouton, while experimenting with dishes like white rum–laced fettuccine Alfredo and veal kidneys à la liégeoise. Although Brite rolls her eyes aplenty at the silly dramas and pretensions inherent in any urban restaurant scene, her affection for it is heartfelt. The plot is pretty boilerplate, but Brite's characters are as refreshingly unpretentious as a healthy helping of comfort food.
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From Booklist

Cult horror novelist Brite's new book offers quite a change of pace: a fictional foray into the wild and highly competitive foodie scene in New Orleans. The plot centers on two brilliant but underappreciated line chefs who come up with a new concept--a first-class dining establishment where the entire menu comprises dishes prepared with alcohol in one form or another, from whiskey to exotic liqueurs. This is a high-energy tale of restaurant intrigue, but there are also plenty of straightforward, realistic scenes depicting the lives of the small army of people who manage to create exotic meals that seem to materialize effortlessly at one's table. Brite serves up course after course of culinary passion and politics, sauteed in humor and garnished with the history of the Big Easy. Like Timothy Taylor's Stanley Park (2002), it will be an eye-opener for anyone who has never seen what really goes on behind the scenes in a fine-dining kitchen. So kick back, put on a zydeco CD, and dig in. Elliott Swanson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1 edition (March 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400050073
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400050079
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #552,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm the author of eight novels, three short story collections, two nonfiction books, and some miscellanea. My earlier books -- LOST SOULS, DRAWING BLOOD, WORMWOOD, EXQUISITE CORPSE, THE LAZARUS HEART, ARE YOU LOATHSOME TONIGHT? (a.k.a. SELF-MADE MAN) -- tend toward the twisted, horrific, and frequently erotic. I still have a definite interest in this sort of thing, but my writing doesn't reflect it as much these days. My recent books -- THE VALUE OF X, THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, LIQUOR, PRIME, and the forthcoming SOUL KITCHEN -- all have to do (in varying degrees) with a couple of young New Orleans chefs named Rickey and G-man, their families, and their restaurant, Liquor. I've been married to a chef for 16 years now and he's still bringing me new stories. We lost our home in Hurricane Katrina, but we are back in New Orleans and doing our best to help rebuild the city. I'll note new books, anthology appearances and such here, but to read my day-to-day blog, please visit

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
Poppy Z. Brite's passion for the restaurant world shines brightly in LIQUOR, but you don't have to be a fan of food writing to appreciate her loving descriptions of gourmet meals and the careful preparation and presentation that goes into them. In fact, as I've observed on more than one occasion, Poppy's descriptions of food can even make meat sound appealing to a vegetarian. (I speak from personal experience.)

Lest I give the wrong impression, I should point out that LIQUOR isn't just about food. It's about people--real people and real relationships. It's also about New Orleans, though not the New Orleans that's so frequently seen through the romanticized veil of Goth. Poppy's not afraid to show her hometown as it truly is, warts and all, but it's also obvious that she's fond of those warts, perhaps even moreso than the more conventionally beautiful parts of the city.

If you've read THE VALUE OF X or any of Poppy's short stories about Rickey and G-man, reading LIQUOR will be like visiting with old friends. If not, it will be like making new ones. Either way, you'll be anxiously awaiting the follow-up novel, PRIME, which is scheduled for a Spring 2005 release.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By S. M. Robare on March 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
I was lucky to score an early copy of Liquor by Poppy z. Brite this past weekend. The novel follows a young couple, John Rickey and Gary "G-Man" Stubbs, from the hot lines at various New Orleans restaurant kitchens to opening their own, a genius spirit infused joint called Liquor, where the alcohol is not only served at the bar but in all of the dishes as well. There aren't a lot of twists and turns, but I think the plot is secondary to her character work, which in my opinion is really well done.
For me the book moved like a steamroller, building momentum slowly, but once it got going it was hard to stop. Though most fans probably know Mrs. Brite for her horror novels, Lost Souls, Drawing Blood, and Exquisite Corpse, it's in Liquor where she truly shines. Liquor feels a lot more personal and involved, through her descriptions of her hometown and her well-drawn characters, than her previous novels.
I think this novel will appeal to those who enjoy Anthony Bourdain's writing or Gregory Mcdonald's Fletch series of novels, as well as anyone who has a love of good food and believable, interesting character work.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Husbands on May 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
In many ways, PZB's novels Liquor and The Value of X are analogous to the shift in the sound of the Beatles which occurred at the mid-point of their career. Those who wish to restrict PZB's writing to the more baroque style she debuted with may be a bit surprised or dismayed to learn that she has for the most part moved beyond such ornate writing. This is not a bad thing; PZB has honed her style down into an appropriate tool for relating the stories of Rickey and G-Man, and the contemporary New Orleans they live, love and work in. Liquor as a novel is immediately entrancing and, most wonderfully of all, leaves the reader more than a little impatient for the next novel in the projected trilogy (The Value of X is a prequel of sorts, and does not count as part of the trilogy). The author uses her first or second-hand knowledge of the N.O. restaurant scene and her obvious love for the Crescent City to fashion her most satisfying novel to date. Within the narrative, she manages to intertwine street madness, humor both black and benign, scenes of the day to day life of restauranteurs in New Orleans, and glimpses of the colorful history of the city itself. On a personal level, I must have nothing but pity for those who refuse to read Liquor due to the fact that it isn't a "PZB Horror Novel". Those unfortunates are denying themselves the pure pleasure of an extraordinary author who is writing at the top of her game. If you must take refuse in yet another re-reading of Lost Souls, by all means do so. Just don't leave your head in the sand so long that you fail to be entranced by Liquor and its upcoming counterparts.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Daniel R. Robichaud II on March 25, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Technically, this isn't a brand new direction, since the short novel *The Value of X* and a few stories in her recent collection, *The Devil You Know,* visited this direction before, but those were small press hardcovers (Subterranean Press, in fact), and this is a mass market trade paperback. All I can say is: excellent.
(...) So much food...
The plot in a nutshell, G-Man and Rickey are a couple of 27 year old best friends and lovers, who work the mean kitchens of New Orleans. After dealing with jaggoffs and jerks, Rickey gets mondo inspiration for a one-of-a-kind restaraunt that'd do great in the N'Awlins atmosphere -- Liquor, a place whose gimmick is straightforward: every dish served incorporates alcohol in some form. This novel is about the difficulties in getting said restaraunt going. What's more, it's about the challenges involved in going for your dreams and taking a stand for what you feel in important. What's more it's a novel about fear. Not the traditional 'BOO!' kind of fear, but the all too real world 'what if I'm not as good as I think I am?' terror. I once heard the notion that our fears change as we grow older. This is a novel, which demonstrates that development. Poppy Brite is the only person who could've written this novel.
The characters are exceptionally drawn, the writing is honed (though passive sentences creep in once too often for my taste), and the text's flavor is at once saucy, sweet, salty and sexy.
This is probably Poppy Brite's best book, thus far.
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