cover image Amazing Disgrace

Amazing Disgrace

James Hamilton-Paterson, . . Europa Editions, $14.95 (332pp) ISBN 978-1-933372-19-8

This stylishly funny follow-up to Cooking with Fernet-Branca continues the story of Gerald Samper, the English ghostwriter of exuberant sports and media autobiographies. It's a couple of years later, and Samper, still at his Tuscan retreat, is bereft of the hard-won intimacy of his Voynovian neighbor Marta, who has mysteriously disappeared. He consoles himself with penile enhancers and with such dishes as vindaloo blancmange ("an intriguing marriage of the incandescent and the gelid"). Meanwhile, celebrated one-armed yachtswoman Millie Cleat beckons; she wants Samper's help in rendering her more spiritual side in print. And Samper's chain-smoking agent back in London, Frankie, wouldn't mind a subject with more clout—perhaps the great orchestra conductor Max Christ? Shuttling from Tuscany to London and back again, dining with the likes of Cooking 's Nanty (the leader of a superfabulous newly New Age boy band), Samper (as he calls himself) must also deal with a tremendous problem related to those penile enhancers—one even more outsized than Millie Cleat's ego. Recipes for badger and "Death Roe" are sprinkled throughout this charming comedy, sophisticated in the manner of a Peter Sellers romp, with a little Mel Brooks for good measure. (Nov.)