Poppy Z. Brite had a collection of two novellas come out from Small Beer Press in October that are both excellent. Second Line includes both The Value of X and D*U*C*K. The Value of X should be particularly noteworthy for teens, as it is the coming out and coming-of-age stories of two of Brite's long time characters, future chefs (and restaurant owners) Rickey and G-Man. Here's a bit on the collection from Small Beer:
These two short novels bookend Poppy Z. Brite’s cheerfully chaotic series starring two chefs in New Orleans. The Value of X introduces G-man and Rickey, who grew up in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward and who are slowly realizing there are only two important things in life: cooking and each other. Rickey’s parents aren’t quite so taken with the boy’s plans and get him an impossible-to-resist place at the Culinary Institute of America.
In D*U*C*K, Rickey and G-man’s restaurant, Liquor, is doing well but there are the usual complications of running a kitchen: egos get bruised, people get fired . . . and then Rickey is jumped in an alley by one of their ex-waiters.
On the mend, Rickey takes a side job to cater the annual Ducks Unlimited banquet, where every course must, of course, include the ducks the hunters have bagged. Rickey’s crew are ready to meet the challenge, but Rickey’s not sure he can do it all and deal with the guest of honor—his childhood hero, former New Orleans Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert.
Originally published in limited hardcover editions by Subterranean Press, these two novels are full of the pure joy of love, hard work, and great food and are a tremendous extension (or introduction) to Brite’s series.
Brite's books and stories about New Orleans are some of my all time favorite comfort reading and fans of southern writing and food should not let this collection pass them by. Great stuff, for sure.
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