But eating people is still wrong

Today Peter brought home the galleys of Sabina Murray’s novel A Carnivore’s Inquiry, forthcoming in July and described on the back jacket as “a gripping literary psychological thriller about a young woman and a peculiar taste for flesh.” Some of you will already know where this is going. Here is a not altogether random sample, page 39. (I have put asterisks in the naughty bits, to keep my blog from getting stuck in any more decency filters than it has to.)

“How’s Moby-Dick?” asked Ann.

“I’ve finished that,” I said.

“That’s right,” said Ann wearily. Conversation was becoming difficult. “What’d you think?”

“I read an essay by this guy at Columbia, Crain, I think. Anyway, I knew that Melville was a big queen, but Crain has this theory that, at the time, sex between men was the greatest taboo, so every time someone’s about to f*** someone else…”

“What?” said Ann.

“Well, instead they eat each other. There’s some incidence of cannibalism. The cannibalism stands in for the f***ing. It’s the lesser taboo.”

“Kind of like the other white meat?”

I nodded then reconsidered. “What are you talking about?”

So you see, kids, criticism and literature are one, after all. Criticism feeds on novels, and novels feed on criticism, just like . . . oh nevermind. For the record, I didn’t quite say that 19th-century homosexuals ran around ingesting one another like so many overstimulated paramecia. Not in so many words, anyway.