As the year draws to a close, it's likely that you've been asking yourself one question and one question only: what is 2014's answer to Fifty Shades of Grey? What taboo will some enterprising publisher mine in order to instill a small tremor of excitement in us as a populace? Um, well, according to speculation, 2014's Hot Edgy Book will be Season To Taste. It's about a woman who impulsively murders her husband and then disposes of the body by chopping it into sixteen pieces, which she then proceeds to cook and consume. This is not a drill.
Season To Taste will be out on July 15 in the U.S.; its publisher is billing it as "the most subversive and gloriously unexpected novel you'll ever read about the end of a marriage and its aftermath." Hm, okay. Here is a terrifying video of Natalie Young, the novel's author, describing its plot:
"Lizzie Prain is a 53-year-old from Surrey. She lives in a little house on a bend in the lane, and she's been living there for 30 years with a man who's not very nice to her," says Young casually. "One day her life changes very dramatically when she kills him with the garden spade on a Monday morning at quarter to seven." As one does. "Then she has to think about what to do with the body and decides that the kindest and most economical way to dispose of the body is to chop it into 16 bits, bag it, label it, freeze it, cook it, and then eat it. Which is what she does." Which part is the "kind" part? The labeling? The freezing?
All of it, apparently. In an interview with the Sunday Times, Young said, "Killing and then eating or devouring can be part revenge and even part love." She also contends that the book is "feminist," though it's "not man-hating." Which seems more than a bit iffy juxtaposed with this little segment from the video:
"I began to develop in my mind a picture of someone... who is very unhappily married and very, very stuck sitting up in bed one night with what looks like a cookery book. Lying there beside a great big, fat, sweating, snoring, horrible abusive brute, and quietly getting some pleasure from reading about a woman who's chopped her husband up and is cooking him. She would get, I think, some pleasure out of reading a book about a woman who is putting testicles in a frying pan and making sausages."
It's pretty clear that Young's playing into an outlandish persona to help sell the book (and, I mean, it seems to be working). Nonetheless, this needs to be said: WHAT. NOPE. "TESTICLE SAUSAGE" AND "PLEASURE" ARE ANTITHETICAL CONCEPTS. NO WAY. DON'T LIKE.
"This is a book about rage," says Young. "We all have aggression inside us and are not that different from animals. I think it's good to bring out into the open these issues — either in discussion or here in a novel." If it's actually written from that angle — as an exploration of visceral aggression and taboo in general, not as some kind of wildly disturbing "I hate my husband" wish-fulfillment story — it could be quite fascinating. I'd much rather read a book that boldly and intentionally explores those subjects than a book that tepidly sublimates them into some boring "sex is so scary and dangerous!!!" narrative (looking at you, weird cannibalism trope in the Twilight series).
On another note entirely, I'm having a very hard time imagining how a tale of a woman defrosting and preparing sixteen frozen meals could be fun to read.