dark idol

I’m reading Bill Buford’s breakneck food memoir Heat, wherein the former New Yorker fiction editor quits his day job and signs up to be Batali’s bitch. It is an ode to cooking, and Buford chronicles a passion bordering on sexual through his effective, upbeat prose.

Yet I’m more compelled by sections of the book where the author manages to scathe. Wearing the genteel kid gloves of a literary nobleman, he knows how to quietly convey ferocious disdain. For instance, though Buford is sometimes repulsed by Batali’s boorish showboating, he never overtly critiques his subject. Rather, he makes short, sharp incisions to the chef’s persona, pulling out before the reader notices blood was drawn.

I could have a flair for this kind of surgical wordplay.* I’m already prone to causticity couched in wit. It’s a natural leap to think I’ll someday flex my mean muscles on the written page.

*though I’m obviously light years behind Buford’s talent

4 responses to “dark idol

  1. does he say things like, ‘i’m blaming batali for the horrific plague of croc wearing chefs in the world”…or is it more subtle than that?

  2. Oooo- scary! What bugged me about this book was the supposed candor. I call bullshit. Did your wife really allow you to butcher a pig in your apt with no argument? And move to Italy for months at a time? And pretend you were a drunken 23 year old kitchen slave? I think there is a big part of this story that was left out- the same way Julie/Julia lied about her marriage for the book.

  3. I hear you Em, but wouldn’t it bog the story down if he were to talk about arguing with his wife and other peripheral issues? I feel like these omissions were just good self-editing to keep the book streamlined and focused on cooking. It’s not like he overtly says “and my wife didn’t care at all.”

    (granted, I haven’t finished the book yet)

  4. I really enjoyed his book on soccer hooligans. Hard to believe it’s the same guy. He did some hardcore stuff back then.

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