cover image A Certain Hunger

A Certain Hunger

Chelsea G. Summers. Unnamed Press, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-1-951213-14-5

Summers debuts with the fiendishly entertaining account of the rise and fall of Dorothy Daniels, a successful food writer and convicted murderer. Narrator Daniels chronicles her love of food, men, and the development of a cannibalistic urge that earns her the names “MILF Killer” and “Butcher Food Critic” in the tabloids. Written from prison, Daniels’s story gradually unfolds in flashbacks as she acknowledges she has both “intimidating intelligence” and “a dearth of conscience,” and that her “fondness for gratification” brought on her downfall. Watching the hypocrisy of her parents’ supposedly perfect Connecticut domestic bliss, Daniels learns early on that “femininity was junk” and traditional roles of wife and mother are not for her. After college in the 1980s, she moves to Boston and writes for the Boston Phoenix. She soon leaves for New York City, where she launches a successful career writing for lifestyle magazines. Her work brings her to Italy, where she takes on a series of lovers and, after accidentally killing one with her Fiat, decides to cook his liver. The result: “delectable.” Daniels proudly bears her traits as a diagnosed psychopath in the first chapter, a review of a Corpse Reviver #2 cocktail that segues into rhapsody for an ill-fated lover. Despite Daniels’s crimes, she is a consistently appealing companion. With graphic sex and violence, Summers’s shocking and darkly funny novel reads like a feminist-horror version of American Psycho. (Dec.)