Throughout The Epicure's Lament, I pictured the main character as Billy Bob Thorton. Possibly because his character reminded me of a more educated version of his character in Bad Santa (which, if you haven't seen it, I recommend, but only if you have the necessary sick sense of humor to enjoy it. Otherwise, you'll just be horrified and disgusted).
Hugo Whittier is dying of Buerger's disease at age forty. If he stops smoking, he'll recover and be fine, but he refuses. He lives in his family's crumbling mansion, alone, and is fine with the situation. Then his brother and his brother's wife split up and his brother moves back in.
But Dennis is down there in the kitchen, all chipper and clean-shaven and wanting to talk to me. There's nothing I dread and resent more first thing in the morning than the double-headed monstrous hydra of obligatory pleasantries. It makes me want to bash his head in with a tire iron. As long as he's here, my life is ruined. Not to put too fine a point on it.
Imagine how entertainingly he chronicles the return of his (Hugo's) estranged wife, Bellatrix, his ten-year old daughter (or is she?), and other assorted people from his past. He was a character that I liked despite myself. He was selfish and immature and obnoxious and sneaky, but there's just something about Hugo that I couldn't help liking. It helped that he was really, really funny:
Artists have sold you so-called hoi polloi a bill of goods for centuries. They're just trying to justify the fact that all the have to do all day is drink too much and make mud pies and feel everything much too intensely because life just hurts too much. They're socially inept malcontents who can't hack working for anyone else.
To add to all of the other wonderful things about this book, there are recipes. And now I'm hungry again.