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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Food Chain

Geoff Nicholson

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To purchase The Food Chain

Title: The Food Chain
Author: Geoff Nicholson
Genre: Novel
Written: 1992
Length: 183 pages
Availability: The Food Chain - US
The Food Chain - UK
The Food Chain - Canada

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Our Assessment:

B : fine macabre gastronomic fun

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The LA Times . 30/11/1993 Karen Stabiner
Publishers Weekly . 1/11/1993 .
Rev. of Cont. Fiction A Fall/1993 Marisa Januzzi

  From the Reviews:
  • "Geoff Nicholson writes about class, about what men (and one particularly wacky woman, Virgil's mom) will do to get ahead in this world. He writes, with a cold fury, about entitlement, about businessmen who believe that their profits can buy them the right to change society's rules. (...) The Food Chain is an acquired taste and a hell of a diet aid. Keep a couple of antacid tablets nearby if you decide to take a chance." - Karen Stabiner, The Los Angeles Times

  • "A deft stylist, Nicholson adroitly dodges from sex to death to dinner and back, but after an uproarious opening his ability to ring the changes on his fable of consumption fades, while the profundities with which he garnishes the menu are stale at best." - Publishers Weekly

  • "The narrative voice blends knowing British acerbity and an uneducable American overfamiliarity in the telling of this story, and the results are highly amusing." - Marisa Januzzi, Review of Contemporary Fiction

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       In the Acknowledgements that preface the book proper Nicholson cites a number of books as having been of special use to him in the writing of this one. Piers Paul Read's Alive is one of them, hinting at what position in the food chain our protagonist might find himself in.
       The Food Chain is about food. As, however, is generally the case when Nicholson tackles a subject he does so with a single-minded comprehensiveness rarely equalled. He always goes to great lengths, be it with Volkswagens, foot fetishism, collectors, department stores, or even the City of London. Thankfully, he also always does more with his subjects.
       The Food Chain does explore the many facets of our fascination with food and proper meals and gastronomic pleasure and indulgence. Virgil Marcel, the "enfant terrible of L.A. gastronomy" is invited to London. He is, specifically, invited to the elite and mysterious Everlasting Club. Poor Virgil doesn't quite know what he is getting himself into, but the promise of being wined and dined in spectacular fashion is too good to pass up.
       Nicholson alternates the story of Virgil's seduction and initiation into the Everlasting Club with short episodes from the history of said club, weaving an imaginative and ever-darkening picture of gastronomic pleasure. A clever and fun book, the humor nicely black (and redeeming itself with at least one unexpected turn to save it from a bleak ending), it is a fine food book.
       Nicholson is not yet at the height of his powers here, but it is a good read. Certainly recommended.

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The Food Chain: Reviews: Geoff Nicholson: Other books by Geoff Nicholson under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Contemporary British fiction

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About the Author:

       English author Geoff Nicholson, born in Sheffield in 1953, has written a flurry of novels. He lives in London and New York.

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