Usually when you read an author’s debut novel, it’s a complete mystery. Who is this new writer? What will she* write about? What will her style be? Will I groove her message, voice, tone, undercurrents, ending? Will I drag myself through this book, just hoping to accomplish another title? Or read the last page breathless, wanting more? Will I want to recommend it to my friends, or better yet… to my book club?
But what if you are already pretty well acquainted with the author? What if you have been reading her blog for a few years now, growing slowly addicted to the way she distills her thoughts and manipulates language so that it forms smoky genies of ideas in your head, rather than plainly telling you blunt things? (Sorry, King and Hemingway. She rises above your advice.) What if every time you read her blog posts, you wish they were longer? What if she has already seduced you a thousand times in small, short ways?
Well, then as soon as her first full length novel is available you read it. You gobble up every page and celebrate every literary wish fulfilled and savor every complex surprise she doles out.
My friend Brittany Tuttle, published many times over online and recently with Shebooks for her novella Stone and Spring, has just today released her debut novel Angel Food. I am over the moon excited for her! I loved this book. Not only because I love her, but that certainly doesn’t hurt.
I was lucky enough to read Angel Food several months ago, while Brittany was still editing it, and I literally could not put it down. I sat on the love seat in our front room on a weekday. It was snowing outside. I remember rising early to feed the animals and tidy up the house, then I sat down with a cup of coffee and started reading. Then all of a sudden it was afternoon and I hadn’t moved. I hadn’t eaten or ran a mile or anything, but the light had shifted and the house was dark. So I made some dinner for Handsome and went back to reading. I read all night and finished it in a hotel room the next day. I remember not wanting it to end, just like her blog posts.
Angel Food is part science fiction, part family dramedy, part something I have never read before. It’s action-packed, sexy, hilarious, darkly fascinating, and just exactly the right amount of off-putting to keep you from blinking or breathing regularly. It has a thread of suggestive incest, but in a way that is actually delicious. (Shut up, you have to read it to know what I mean.) And how the characters handle this is so funny! Only really smart people can get away with this, and Brittany does.
Brittany crafts these incredible scenes. These bloody, violent, highly sexual, emotionally charged and laugh-out-loud funny scenes, the likes of which I have never read before. Do you know how some chefs have a knack for striking bizarre flavor combinations, but it works? It is suddenly the most wonderful thing that has ever touched your tongue? That. She does this with characters, dialogue, and surprise events. She folds together one element with another in ways that leave you shaking your head and wanting so much more.
“I’m a Methodist and a Republican and I do not wish to see your bosom.” This is a spoken line late in the book, and let me assure you I peed my pants laughing. The inner dialog is just as fun and sharp, too. She develops each character with either desperation or aloofness or something else miraculous, and every single creation is perfect.
So those are my thoughts on a brand new piece of fiction hitting the shelves today. I hope you seek it out! I hope you spend a day or two completely immersing yourself in this bizarre science fiction family road trip. You will not regret it.
Angel Food by Brittany Tuttle: 5 stars. Rated R. Be sure to catch the author’s own clever synopsis right here. So funny. You’ll see a quote by me, too!
“It smells of syrup and sausage and the past.”
*Or he, of course! But this is all about a girl-crush I have. Spoiler alert.