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The Epicure's Lament (2005)

The Epicure's Lament (2005)

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3.73 of 5 Votes: 1
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038572098X (ISBN13: 9780385720984)

About book The Epicure's Lament (2005)

How can one even begin to describe the symphony of words and ideas that this brilliant author has woven into a magnificent tale of life, love and the true meaning of having control over any of it? It's books such as this one that move me, they make my insides tremble and hands shake in anticipation of what is going to happen next. Even before I got to the end it struck me that this was the best book I have ever read, my favorite novel; spicy, cynical, opulent, and extremely witty. I guess I can sympathize with the main character, Hugo Whitter, a writer and self proclaimed hermit, lover of solitude because I used to feel the same way growing up. I wanted to be left alone to read and write and to lose myself in my own thoughts, I never ended up living in the desert, might have something to do with the fact that I love cold weather, but I could clearly see Hugo's reluctance to let his friends and family back into his life, or what was left of it to enjoy what ever desires he decided to indulge in, mostly staring at the trees outside his window, cooking grand meals, writing in his journal and courting women that perhaps were not really his to have.This is a very luxurious and sensuous book, marred with ideas and desires of infinite proportions.Hugo Witter is an old man inside a still young to the world forty year old body, suffering from an addiction to smoking which is killing him through Buerger's disease as its speedily threatening to claim his life. With each chapter the reader gets an urgent sense that Hugo's time is running out, he's unhappily welcoming his brother Dennis back to their childhood home after a stormy disruption of his marriage, his estranged wife Sonia and possibly not really his child Bellatrix are looming on the horizon with a visit, first one in ten years and his own love life is tangled up between female acquaintances and wives of people he can't stand. Disrupted from his peaceful life he stirs up plenty of heat between the family members, trying to get them out of his life, instead getting more and more involved with the outside world and the yearning for self imposed eternal released of this burden called life. Blatantly honest, raw and lovable, Hugo is a flawed but a charismatic and charming character, I was blown away by the sheer fact that the author who created such a strong man is indeed a woman, one that made this family black sheep into one of my favorite literary characters of all time. As the family ties get more complicated with Hugo's involvement the reader starts dreading his open talks about suicide, and the unnerving way in which he starts to plan his departure, the last meal, last family gathering with cool blood and lack of dramatization. It's almost unbearable until the end comes, I was stunned and fulfilled by it, only feeling devastated that the book was over.The writing is refreshing, interesting and it fed my mind the entire time I was plugged into the book. I may need to read it again very soon or I will seriously have Hugo withdrawals, the things he said and thought of were mind bogging and magnificent. I laughed a lot and also gasped but this book rocked, there was no descriptive filler, the words were jewels and pearls and each as rich as the next. Reviewing this book is almost impossible, to say what this book meant to me would take ages but I'm in total awe of this author now; I hope she will continue her career as a writer for as long as possible, she's my new hero. This book might not be for everyone but that is perfectly fine with me, it's subtle with the plot but so rich in actions and words spoken, there is no transparency and clichés here but pure genius, if you see it then you're lucky, enjoy!- Kasia S.

Let's make that a 3.5 rating. The writing is really quite good; it gets a tad longish and overwrought like the narrator at times. Hugo is an aging,handsome man living in an aged, handsome mansion and both are falling apart. He is comforted by the fact of the house's coming demise even as he is determined that his own "shambolic frame" will not go out with a whimper, but a banged-up cocktail of hillbilly heroin and alcohol. Then his brother Dennis arrives to live with him temporarily and begins to repair the house even as he later tries to fix up Hugo.Hugo Whittier dislikes most people and reserves hatred for his family, so he tells us. And he makes no secret of the fact that he hates himself most of all. So why do we want to read the notebooks that he began writing when he discovered he had Buerger's Disease and that if he kept on smoking would die of it?He is clever and hilarious. His dry wit and humor know absolutely no bounds - they take on anything and anyone; noone and nothing is sacred. Even as he ridicules his way toward his planned death, he begins to show signs of caring about those people he claims to hate the most. His best quality is the everpresent vulnerability of complete honesty with others, unless of course he is plotting and then he lies to them but not to us, the dear reader of his notebooks. While he claims to be good for nothing, it turns out that he is a gourmet cook, can write a clever line, and can be alternately charming and maddening thus worming his way into the hearts of several women in the book and the two men who are closest to him: distant older brother Dennis and Fag Uncle Tommy.

Do You like book The Epicure's Lament (2005)?

Although We are set up to disapprove of Hugo, the main character, I would be surprised if any reader really disliked him. He is a self-described hermit who has little patience for other people, even his own family. But really he is charming, impish, subversive, and, most winningly, acutely aware of his own shortcomings. He knows himself, and he is comfortable with who he is and with his quiet life. The book's conflicts and tensions arise when other people in his family join him in his family hom
—Sarah B.

Read this based on a recommendation from a friend whose opinion I respect greatly. He said it was one of his favorite books of all time. I don't know if it's up there, but it's definitely one of my favorites in the last few years, let's say top 10 last two years.I suppose not everyone will like Hugo, he is a surly, verbose, pervy guy but he is oddly charming and there is nothing more I'd like to do than hang out with him and observe him while he goes about his day. But the real fun is inside his mind, and that is what you can be privy to if you read this book. My favorite books have to have a fascinating, engaging protagonist. Hugo may not be likable to everyone, he may not be a good guy, but you have to admit he is fascinating and engaging. You may need a dictionary, and there were some references to poetry, French phrases, literature, art that the average person may not be familiar with, but I enjoyed it.I suppose the ending is a little trite. I couldn't decide if I wanted Hugo to smoke himself to death or not. Still, I think you'll be glad to see how the book ends: I was too.

Kate Christensen is an extraordinarily talented writer. While this book is by no means perfect, I gave it five stars because, when she's in the pocket, her prose swings like a gate.* The Epicure's Lament takes its crabby place in the estimable tradition of misanthropic curmudgeon novels such as Confederacy of Dunces, The Debt to Pleasure and, most exquisitely notably, Lolita. Hugo Whittier is an idle, antisocial gastronome, holed up in his family's ancestral mansion, smoking himself to death (more quickly than most of us smokers do - he suffers from Buerger's disease‡) and doing his best to avoid all human contact except for the occasional casual sexual liaison and the oddly flirtatious rapport he develops with the teenage convenience store clerk from whom he buys his cigarettes.The plot, driven by all the pesky people (his brother, his wife, his putative daughter, his "Fag Uncle Tommy") who won't leave Hugo alone with his books, his cooking and his smokes, is very predictable (think a toned-down version of "Scrooge's Christmas morning redemption" - I'm sorry, was that a spoiler? Did you really not see it coming?) in a commercial lit-fic kinda way, but I long ago realized I don't really care what happens in novels. I want engaging language and people I enjoy hanging out with, and Hugo is, most decidedly, my kinda peeps. * "My generation is a sudden tail-end-of-the-Boom dip on the population explosion graph, the unprepossessing trough characterized only by a shared generalized nostalgia for some America that almost but never quite existed - I envision us as a tiny tribe of isolates scattered around the coasts, clinging to the edges like aliens yearning for some golden, decadent, hot-browed era of martinis and Louis Prima and Harlem midnight suppers, apothecaries selling morphine-laced beverages, wooden dice rolling on deep-green baize, that zingy old New York pulse and frizzle, sad gas stations out west we drive up to in our roadsters and Thunderbird convertibles, to refill our tanks for fifteen cents a gallon and move on from, leave behind in red dust, Shell sign flapping in hot wind, on our way to Palm Springs to shack up in some turquoise geometric motel with intergalactic decor and a butterfly-shaped pool, drinking gin and fresh orange juice and smoking Luckys and solving murders and eating ham sandwiches at 3 a.m...We live in our own romance stories detective novels, noir films, all that jazz." ‡ a painful, fatal condition for recalcitrant smokers like Hugo and Alfred Fisher, the husband of Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher, on whom [Mary Frances], along with Michel de Montaigne, Hugo has a powerful and very charming - his admiration and excitement keep poking through his jaded pose - intellectual crush.

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