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The Club of Angels by Luis Fernando…
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The Club of Angels (original 1998; edition 2008)

by Luis Fernando Verissimo, Margaret Jull Costa (Translator)

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121699,547 (3.66)13
Member:jburlinson
Title:The Club of Angels
Authors:Luis Fernando Verissimo
Other authors:Margaret Jull Costa (Translator)
Info:New Directions (2008), 144 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:Mystery, Meta-mystery

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The Club of Angels by Luís Fernando Verissimo (1998)

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English (4)  Dutch (2)  All languages (6)
Showing 4 of 4
The narrator of this short book, Daniel, is a member of a very exclusive society of gourmands: He and nine other men regularly meet at each other's houses to feast on the most delicious, exotic, flavorful meals they can create. The club hasn't met recently due to some bad blood between the members, but then Daniel meets the mysterious chef Lucídio, who agrees to cook for them. The club members all converge on Daniel's apartment and are delighted to find that Lucídio's cooking is the best they've ever tasted. But then one of the guests mysteriously dies the next day -- and the meal Lucídio had prepared was that guest's favorite dish. The club continues to hold more dinners, and another member dies after each one. Yet for some reason, Daniel and his friends can't resist experiencing these exquisitely perfect meals, even with the knowledge that each bite could be their last.

From the moment I read the epigraph of this creepy little novel, I was hooked: "All desire is a desire for death. -- A possible Japanese maxim." Verissimo wasn't being lazy in his attribution; the saying is actually referenced in the novel, and it highlights Daniel's unreliability as a narrator. From the start, he warns us that he might be making up the whole story, and then he goes on to give a brief philosophy of the detective novel. So you'll know within the first two pages whether you'll like this book or not; I thought it was weird and thought-provkoking and very good! My library shelves it in the mystery section, which doesn't make sense to me, since "whodunit" is clear from the outset (well, kind of). But watching the motives slowly unfold was interesting and surprisingly suspenseful. I should also point out that this book is set in Brazil, and the main characters are a great microcosm of Brazilian society. I enjoyed this book a lot and would definitely recommend it, as well as Verissimo's other novel, Borges and the Eternal Orangutans.
1 vote christina_reads | Sep 18, 2013 |
I really enjoyed this unusual little book. The story is narrated by Daniel, one of 10 members of the Beef Stew Club, an elitist gourmand club created by a group of childhood friends from Brazil's wealthy, uppercrust families. After 20 years of monthly gatherings to feast on gastronomic delights, and two years after the death of the club's chef and spiritual leader Ramos from AIDS, the club is on the brink of disbanding. In a wine shop, Daniel encounters Lucido, a cook with a mysterious, taciturn manner, who offers to recreate the member's favorite dishes, to give them a gastronomic thrill like no other. What follows from this offer is a tale of bewilderment and death as a member of the Beef Stew Club dies at the end of each monthly feast Lucido creates.

This intriguing book is more like a murder mystery told in reverse and a morbid satire of the sins of gluttony. It is the whys behind the murders that makes this story such a fascinating read, along with the outrageous characters and dialogue.

Overall, quite a good tale! ( )
  lkernagh | Jun 27, 2010 |
A cross between Christie's Ten Little Indians and Fellini's I Vitelloni. This is a pretty good example of what I call a meta-mystery: the mystery genre version of metafiction. Meta-mystery is a type of mystery story that explicitly addresses the devices of the genre. It is mystery writing that self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artifact in posing questions about the relationship between fiction and reality, usually employing a considerable degree of irony and self-reflection. Like presentational theatre, which does not let the audience forget it is viewing a play; meta-mystery does not let the reader forget he or she is reading a fictional work. Similarly, it could be compared with prostitution: the reader is regularly reminded that this is not an act of love. ( )
  jburlinson | Jan 24, 2009 |
This one jumped off the shelf: thin book by an author I’ve never heard of, with a whimsical Botero drawing on the cover. One by one, the portly members of the Beef Stew Club are dying. They are fairly certain of their poisoner — a gourmet chef who is preparing their monthly banquets — and even can predict the chosen sacrifice, whose last supper will be graced with their favorite dish. And yet, and yet . . . the food is so good, that the Ten Little Gourmands just go on indulging their recurring desires, eating themselves to death and trading quotes from King Lear as grace notes to their sated fates. One quote that does not come up is “O Reason not the need! . . . allow not nature more than nature needs, man’s life’s as cheap as beast’s,” which sentiment would seem near to the fatty heart of Brazilian author Verissimo’s wonderfully odd little English-language debut. Narrator Daniel relates the proceedings with such delightful candor and bland irreverence I found myself laughing and sighing at these sad fools. As Daniel says, “We are bastards, yes, but great bastards, princely bastards.” Now Gods, stand up for princely bastards! Light up a cigar, snift some brandy, and savor this curious, piquant dish. ( )
  guybrarian | Aug 2, 2007 |
Showing 4 of 4
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All desire is a desire for death. A possible Japanese maxim
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Lucidio is not one of the devil's 117 names, nor did I conjure him up from the depths so that he could punish us.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0811215008, Hardcover)

A witty novel about sin and gluttony, by one of Brazil's most revered writers. Luis Fernando Verissimo's The Club of Angels is an irresistible, enticing book—almost as irresistible and enticing as the exquisite meals prepared within—about the sin of gluttony. Written by one of Brazil's leading authors and columnists, The Club of Angels was an immediate success there, and has been on the bestseller list since 1998. It tells the story of ten privileged men, who meet every month to dine fabulously and celebrate their friendship and singularity. When their leader, Ramos, dies of AIDS, the narrator Daniel meets his possible replacement—Lucido—in a wineshop. Lucido is mysteriously taciturn, but in the privacy of Daniel's kitchen, he recreates the men's favorite dishes, giving them a gastronomic experience like no other. The tale of bewilderment and death that follows creates an unforgettable literary experience. It is tinged with funny characters, witty dialogue, touching with mordant satire on all segments of Brazilian society. The Club of Angels has been translated into English by the renowned Margaret Jull Costa (translator of José Saramago, Paulo Coelho, Javier Marías, and Arturo Perez-Reverte).

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:58 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

After the leader of a dinner group called the Beef Stew Club dies of AIDS, his replacement, a mysterious gourmet cook named Lucidio, prepares unforgettable meals for the group, but after each dinner one of the members dies.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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