I Is Another

Elisabeth Russell Taylor, Author, Elisabeth Russell Taylor, Author
Elisabeth Russell Taylor, Author, Elisabeth Russell Taylor, Author Peter Owen Publishers $31.95 (120p) ISBN 978-0-7206-0959-2
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Taylor's baroque tale of an English chef's rise, fall and redemption mingles the elegant with the grotesque, as if seating Flaubert next to William S. Burroughs at dinner. The nameless narrator, after founding a four-star restaurant on his ability to duplicate the masterpieces of earlier French chefs, comes to grief when his Swiss wife, Sabine (who manages her husband as easily as she manages their restaurant), encourages him to create his own cuisine. When he falters and reaches the brink of collapse, she packs him off, with a mysterious prescription, to a Swiss sanatorium that resembles something out of de Sade. In the first half of the novel, Taylor (Pillion Riders) writes with sharp refinement, whether discoursing on the history of haute cuisine, Sabine's snobbish strategies for running the restaurant or the narrator's re-creation of Emma Bovary's wedding banquet. In the second half, hallucinations run the gamut from social satire in the patients' chattily pointless monologues and bizarre torture-feasts to phantasmal allegories of carnality and torment. Although her chef loses and regains his sense of identity in the process of embodying a familiar theme of self and invention, Taylor's rarefied short novel is for the equally rarefied of taste. (Mar.)
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