The Food Chain

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Geoff Nicholson is a highly prolific writer, yet this is my first exposure to his work. As such, it was something of a revelation, although I don't believe that's quite the proper term. A quick glance over Nicholson's body of work reveals something of a preoccupation with sex, an impression well-backed-up by this book.

The Food Chain is primarily a book about a well-aged old boys' hangout known as "The Everlasting Club". Britain's past is full of such clubs, and in fact perhaps the best known and most infamous, the Hellfire Club, is mentioned in this book as a contemporary of this fictional organization, each with their own array of dark secrets.

The book's primary protagonist, Virgil Marcel, is introduced to us as the inspiration for the icon of a fictional chain of restaurants known as "Golden Boy", which is described in terms that can only remind me (geek that I am) of Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, when he talks about the comforting sameness of fast food; not that good, not that bad, always consistent, personable, and well-lit. Virgil, by contrast, operates a French restaurant opened by his father, owner of the Golden Boys. Where his father Frank failed, Virgil succeeded, largely through attitude.

The reward for Virgil's success is an invitation to a party in London, all expenses paid. Virgil runs along and is provided with a suit and a cheauffeur, and then with a blindfold - this being the standard procedure to those being admitted. He plays along and finds himself in a neverending dinner party whose centerpiece is a naked woman who serves as, well, a serving platform. Virgil kisses her and is ejected from the club.

In fact, he meets up with the woman again in a cafeteria in which he is attempting to take refuge from British food, and they engage in a whirlwind tour of (to his despair) what she refers to as the real article, as well as a great deal of kinky sex. Meanwhile, his father is invited to the same club, and its dark secrets are, if not revealed, strongly alluded to.

A final warning; this book deals frankly with themes and concepts that may make even the strong of stomach a bit ill at ease; those who are easily offended would do well to skip this book, and probably everything else Nicholson has set his pen to. If the book has a fault, it is the overall dryness. The book is not long, but readers will find that it vacillates between attempting to amuse, educate, offend, and arouse, which might be too much for some.

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