Liquor / Prime (Poppy Z. Brite)

I didn't write much on "Liquor" after I read it so I'm bundling these two into one entry, mainly also because that's how they'll live in my mind, just blended together as one continuous story, and because I still don't really have a lot to say on either beyond, "loved 'em". "Liquor" tells the story of how Rickey and G-Man, close childhood buddies turned perfect couple, realise their dream of setting up their own restaurant, a journey that's not without its obstacles, like the psychotic cokehead Mike Mouton, or the cranky old guy round the corner. It's an enjoyable ride through kitchen culture that really makes your mouth water. If you like cooking, you'll love it. If you don't, get ready to want to cook.

"Prime" continues the trend of the first novel, with more problems for Rickey and G-Man, from a bad review in a magazine to past near-fling, to far, far larger, deeper and secretive things, all tightly connected. Once you've picked up with the characters, like I said, it's like you never left. "Prime" seems to have a lot more in it than "Liquor". It begins with Rickey, now a celebrity after the success of Liquor, being asked to go and advise in an overhaul of a failing Texas restaurant. He overhauls it entirely, making it the 'Prime' of the book's title, an all-beef menu in the same style as the all-alcohol-related menu of the first book's restaurant. This takes up a lot less space in the novel than I expected. It's when Rickey returns that the shit slowly starts to hit the fan and things get pretty scary.

I think I liked "Prime" more than "Liquor" but it could just be that I'm getting more into the author's 'new direction' (I hate saying that because to me it's not such a change, but this girl used to write some crazy stuff you wouldn't let your mother read, whereas this is far more, I don't know, wholesome). One thing I didn't like much was the ending of the novel which to me felt a little rushed, and a little too, I don't know, 'happy' ... it felt like the end of a Thundercats episode or something, all the characters kind of stand together laughing, it's sort of eerie, but maybe it's just another way for her to distance herself from the gothy stuff she's better known for and kind of give the finger to those fans who want more of the same. I can't deny that I'm kind of one of those fans even while loving the new stuff (there's a little gross description towards the end of this one and I was like "oooh there you are old school Poppy!!"), so perhaps that's why the ending irked me a little.

I can't wait for the next Rickey and G-Man novel, "Soul Kitchen". Due out in April next year, I think. I really love these characters and I can't wait to see where she takes them next.