Published by Little, Brown on March 17th 2015
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The first night Eddie’s mother, Darlene, doesn’t return home, he tosses her absence aside as another side-effect to her new drug habit. But after several days, Eddie finds himself wandering his mother’s late night haunts, looking for clues to where she’s gone. He soon discovers she’s been lured to a farm and promised a new start with a budding company, which is far from the truth, as Delicious Foods aims to enslave its workers with low wages, high rent and the haze of drugs.
With bleeding stumps of hands, James Hannaham warns readers on the first page of his new novel that thye’re in for a wild, delirious ride. From there he jumps back and forth in time, from Darlene’s relationship with Eddie’s father to the horrible conditions at Delicious Foods. But we don’t just get the two points of view, as Darlene’s mind is clouded by the presence of crack cocaine. Hannaham gives crack its own voice, by making Scotty a narrator for much of the novel, and gets into the workings of addiction without ever creating a caricature.
“Hello, Darlene, I said, and my smoke entered her lungs for the first time, gentle like a handshake at first, then my lovely fingers of smoke got in her breath and grabbed it right where Nat’s breath had once spent all that time. I’m so glad we met.”
As a reader used to encountering the dark and gritty, I was shocked to find myself cringing through some of the novel’s later scenes. Without a doubt, James Hannaham knows how to elicit a visceral reaction to his words. From start to finish, Delicious Foods is a book that twists preconception and forces readers to pay attention in the best way possible.