Read Remark Book Review - Delicious Foods by James Hannaham

Book Review: Delicious Foods by James Hannaham

Delicious Foods by James Hannaham
Published March 2015
Little, Brown

Delicious Foods shows the different ways we sate life’s appetites.

The book opens with a teenage Eddie in intense pain because his hands have been freshly cut off. Somehow, though the searing pain, he manages to drive the distance to his aunt’s home. There, he builds a satisfactory, albeit hands-free, life.

He doesn’t like to talk about what happened. Turns out, he has good reason for keeping the events to himself. As we looking back at the events, losing his hands seems almost like the least of his troubles. A small sacrifice to get out of the situation he was in.

Delicious Foods shows the unraveling of a family. Cleverly, it’s told from three points of view: the mother Darlene, son Eddie, and the cocaine that claims Darlene for so many years.

All three of them strive to feed their hunger.

Life’s cruelty leaves Darlene and Eddie starving for money, power, freedom, relief from unbearable loss, for simple comfort and affection. There are many undernourished appetites in this story. For Darlene and too many of her peers, she blots out that emptiness with the ultimate suppressor, cocaine.

Darlene’s appetite for cocaine is insatiable and decades-long.

Ultimately, she is never sated. We see the constant pull on her consciousness from the cocaine’s point of view.

“I opened a door inside the smoke and she done came on in and run down a unreal hallway past a whole bunch of rooms in the mansion I built for her…” – James Hannaham, Delicious Foods

Feeding the hunger with cocaine is numbing, mesmerizing, and life-stealing.

Though the story isn’t set during colonial America, it shows a different, insidious form of modern day slavery. With nowhere else to go, Darlene and Eddie join Delicious Foods, a farming operative. In contrast to the safe haven they expected, Delicious Foods demands long hours and provides only a barn for shelter. A steady stream of cocaine keeps Darlene perpetually in debt, unable to leave.

For she and her fellow drug-addicted coworkers, it’s a life with no power; exploited, overworked, underfed.

Beautifully written and starkly told. There’s no swell of orchestra music or dramatic teary monologues. Instead, so much hunger and little chance to savor the delicious foods of life.