Hi everyone! I am so thankful I can take part in The Book Wheel’s 30 Authors in 30 Days. I saw this floating around last year, and I thought the idea was spectacular! I couldn’t wait to join this year. I expressed my interest, and was chosen to host an author’s review! Yay!
So here’s what #30Authors is all about:
#30Authors is an event started by The Book Wheel that connects readers, bloggers, and authors. In it, 30 authors review their favorite recent reads on 30 blogs in 30 days. It takes place annually during the month of September and has been met with incredible support from and success in the literary community. It has also been turned into an anthology, which is currently available on Amazon and all author proceeds go to charity. Previous #30Authors contributors include Celeste Ng, Cynthia Bond, Brian Panowich, and M.O. Walsh. To see this year’s full line-up, visit www.thebookwheelblog.com/30authors or follow along on Twitter @30Authors.
Today, I am hosting Priya Parmar. She is reviewing Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler.
I should mention up front that I do not drink. And have never drunk. I am allergic to alcohol and always have been, so have never tasted wine, beer, spirits or done a shot. I am also a vegetarian. I gave up meat when I was nine and do not remember the taste, the texture, the experience, of most foods on a restaurant menu. Food is not my thing. And so I expected to feel a degree of alienation from Stephanie Danler’s Sweetbitter. Because, this is a novel of appetite, of taste, of texture, of the sensuality of consumption. Here, food is a sexy business and the world of restaurant life is steeped in hierarchy, ritual, code and cipher that all lead back to the ignition of the senses. But, this is also a novel of self, of youth, of New York, of the ruthless pulling apart and putting back together again part of coming of age. It is a savagely intimate novel and the writing is luminous. It was impossible for me to feel alienation from Sweetbitter. Instead I carried it around in my bag two days after I finished it, not wanting the experience to end.
Tess was the draw. Much like the narrator Rachel Cusk’s Outline, we know almost nothing of our narrator’s backstory. Tess arrives in New York from somewhere else and life starts over. Everything is on the table and she is not fearless but is wholly committed to chasing down experience. Tess falls down the rabbit hole of her new life and we watch as she cracks open and reassembles in jagged, aching prose. There is love and a love triangle and sex and drugs and damage and friendship and the stark recognition that some friendships are specific to time and place and are empty of lasting connection.
Danler’s observations are knife sharp and written with glorious precision. The vocabulary of food and wine is expansive, rich and unexpected. Sensuality runs in the blood of this novel. As Tess gains her footing in this world, so do we. We are told from the first line “You will develop a palate” and by the end, without a sip or a bite, I felt as though I had.
ABOUT PRIYA PARMAR, today’s author/reviewer
Educated at Mount Holyoke College, the University of Oxford and the University of Edinburgh, Priya Parmar is the author of one previous novel, Exit the Actress.
Her new novel, VANESSA AND HER SISTER, published by Ballantine/Random House is available now.
She divides her time between Hawaii and London.
VANESSA AND HER SISTER can be found on Amazon.
ABOUT STEPHANIE DANLER
A huge thank you to everyone who stops by! And an even bigger thank you to Allison at The Book Wheel for making this all possible!
I know for sure that I’m going to have to check out VANESSA AND HER SISTER, and SWEETBITTER.
Until next time,