Cat Musings is inspired by my reading for the Cornflower Book Group in the last week (discussion here), John Lanchester's The Debt to Pleasure. Despite its nasty, arrogant narrator, I enjoyed this book and was amused by the conceit that, if people are going to read cookery books like novels, then someone should write a novel that's like a cookery book. I know that others have done this - I'm very sniffy about Chocolat, I'm afraid, and don't have any immediate plans to read it (I always hate books that everyone else raves about), but Cooking with Fernet Branca has just edged its way up the TBR pile. Lanchester (in the person of Tarquin) holds up well as a food writer, with that note of greediness combined with a lofty conviction of his own infallibility in matters of taste that can be characteristic of the genre. The writing is authoritative in another sense too, that of an author manipulating his tools with incisiveness and, to borrow Cornflower's word, brio.
Meanwhile, with deadlines to meet, I'm re-reading my way right through the Mountjoy novels by Elizabeth Pewsey. Most of her characters are enthusiastic about food, which is one of the reasons why I enjoy the series - lots of shopping at Gumbles, the upmarket deli in Eyot (aka Durham) - and many are musicians (one Amazon reviewer grumbled that they are all named like characters from a recherché opera, which is true, but I don't mind it at all - my favourite is Canon Holigost, while a composer should be named Alban Praetorius). Reading them one after another makes me a little more aware of their failings - there's not enough variation in voice, for example, nearly everyone talks in the same way and uses the same rather idiosyncratic set of expressions (for instance, "sharpen your wits", which I've never heard anyone actually say). On the other hand, if you can ignore - or as I do, enjoy, the mannerisms - then it's a rewarding series, full of fun and acerbic wit, with a nice sense of the traditions that matter. I'll write about them some more when I have time - meanwhile, it's back to work.