YOU CAN READ
|A Brief Description
from the Publisher
Reservations Recommended is many things: a satire of the critical mind; a dark commentary on contemporary culture; a story of midlife crisis; a morality play; and a book that matches bleakness against humor with a grace rare among contemporary writers. Matthew Barber is a pseudonymous Boston restaurant reviewer who between (and sometimes during) meals at local eateries conducts affairs with ladies of his acquaintance — affairs mental as much as carnal. We watch as Barber descends from his self-protective superiority into a species of madness, careening toward an ending of stark moral ambiguity. Woven throughout with Barber’s own hilariously acid reviews, Reservations Recommended is Eric Kraft’s most fearless venture into the dark night of the soul.
|Very Brief Excerpts from the Reviews
Where to Find It
|Where to Find It
Reservations Recommended is published in paperback by Picador, a division of St. Martin's Press, at $12.00.
You should be able to find Reservations Recommendedat your local bookstore, but you can also order it by phone from:
Bookbound at 1-800-959-7323You can order it on the Web from Amazon.com Books.
Where to Find It
|Not-So-Brief Excerpts from the Reviews
"Kraft brings comic flair, compassion, and
rare skill to a modern-day morality tale about a Jekyll-and-Hyde restaurant
reviewer. . . . Sometimes scary satire about the
unraveling of the urban social fabric and one man's moral fiber; Kraft
hits his themes hard, but he's funny and skillful enough to avoid a heavy
"Eric Kraft is a satirist
with style and sting. By looking askance at the downside of modern
maturity, he sees it with more truth and clarity than the maudlin army
of novelists who meet it grimly head on."
"Kraft's last novel, Herb 'n' Lorna . . . garnered
rave reviews, and his latest should fare just as well, although it's a
darker work. Each chapter centers on a restaurant meal at which Matthew
struggles with his self-consciousness while making mental notes for his
review and eavesdropping on other tables. These dining scenes are hilarious,
perceived through Matthew's inner skirmish between his insecurity and [his
alter ego's] sophistication. . . . A shrewd, adroit,
and spirited novel."
"Reservations Recommended is . . .
merciless sendup of contemporary American pretensions, which aims to
show the disastrous effects of many kinds of human disguises. Among its
targets are pen names, pseudo-imported beers, faked orgasms, post-structuralist
literary jargon, inauthentic nostalgia for the '50s and faux decor, including
the likes of 'faux-tiger upholstery' and 'faux-leopard carpeting.' . .
. Eric Kraft can pack more wit into a sentence about grilled pork tenderloin
than a lot of authors can fit into an entire book, which is just one of
the things that makes Reservations Recommended fun."
"At first, this dark comic novel seems like
no more than a deft satire of chic big-city restaurants, snooty places
with names like Dolce Far Niente and Cafe Zurich, where the leather-bound
wine list 'resembles a photo album of the sort usually embossed with the
words "Our Wedding."' Each chapter spotlights such an eatery, and each
closes with a restaurant review by the pompous B. W. Beath. Just as Beath
is only a pen name, masking the identity of one Matthew Barber, the true
subject of the book -- a society gone mad with self absorption -- isn't
on the menu. . . .
"A deft satire on the
excesses of contemporary America."
"A moving urban fable
that contains all the ingredients, comic and tragic, of our flawed design
"Reservations Recommended, whose title
obliquely sums up Matthew's weary weltanschauung, examines the dark
side of the erotic wonderland Kraft conceived in Herb 'n' Lorna. It is
also a deft anthropological study of the complex imaginary relationships
that might develop between reviewers (as opposed to critics) and reviewed.
. . . Kraft writes honestly and sympathetically about Matthew's emotional
vicissitudes and disentangling relationships. But, like all Kraft's work,
in games, frames, masks, and artifice. . . . Reservations Recommended
is a wonderfully readable novel about an intelligent
man's capitulation to the anger and fear endemic to middle-aged, middle-class
white American men. At times an extremely uncomfortable read, it's never
less than touching and intelligent."
"Eric Kraft peers sardonically from the dust
jacket, saying "OK, buddy, I've got your number." In this
but ultimately depressing novel, he's got just about everybody's number.
The premise is unique and beautifully realized. . . . Boy, does Kraft have
the tone of contemporary urban American life and concerns down perfectly.
The restaurants serve as mirrors for the pretensions of a society that
no longer has standards of behavior and quality. . . . The failure to find
love on any terms destroys Matthew's compassion and humanity."
"Displays a tremendous empathy for the ways
human beings distort themselves in restaurants and how the critical stance
makes liars of us . . . . The seven satirical restaurants are hilariously
on the mark, and some of Beath's criticism . . . is witty
enough to steal. . . . This novel has a mean streak, but it allows
for belief in Santa Claus."
"Kraft's carefully crafted tale works on several
levels. . . . Reservations Recommended is a psychosexual
"tour de farce" that details Matthew's attempts to break out from his
self-imposed mediocrity. Along the way, Kraft serves up some tart observations
of society and one man's search for his place in a world that has passed
"Matthew is Walter Mitty quite literally run
mad. . . . The classy and funny Kraft gets some appeal
into this decline of a sniveler. The restaurant reviews that mark each
episode of Matthew's emotional regress are gems of thievery and pretension:
They are real life thoroughly risen above. Matthew, it gives us pause to
realize, is talented though hopeless. When his desperation begins to shred
B. W.'s prose aplomb it's like listening to Ravel's Valse. . . .
Matthew, nasty little non-person that he is . . . is someone you see every
day, sometimes in the mirror. Look at him carefully, if you can stand it.
. . . He is the cipher at the bottom of the vortex . . . ."
"A brilliant satire .
. . a gem that is both awfully funny yet terribly serious, striking at
the heart of our contemporary dilemmas. Kraft is a Swift for the 1990s,
and Reservations Recommended is a novel that shouldn't be missed."
"I recommend this novel
"Takes a unique approach to analyzing the
world through a restaurant reviewer's eyes . . .in this highly introspective,
intellectual novel . . .just like life, chaotic variables control the review.
. . . The refreshing honesty in Kraft's ruminations is humorous,
pathetic, incisive, and, well, accurate from my point of view. Moving
right along into my 40s (quite nicely, thank you), I appreciate Kraft's
illumination of the future surprises life may hold and the chances one
might take to discover them."
"Una obra seria,
muy seria, abierta, inteligentemente amena, realista, divertida, trascendente
y hermosa, que revela la presencia de un s—lido escritor dueño
de su propio concepto del mundo, con cosas notables que decir para que
alguien las escuche."
I should like to see the custom introduced of readers who are pleased with a book sending the author some small cash token: anything between half-a-crown and a hundred pounds. Authors would then receive what their publishers give them as a flat rate and their “tips” from grateful readers in addition, in the same way that waiters receive a wage from their employers and also get what the customer leaves on the plate. Not more than a few hundred pounds—that would be bad for my character—not less than half-a-crown—that would do no good to yours.
Cyril Connolly, Enemies of Promise
Copyright © 1990 by Eric Kraft
Reservations Recommended is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogues, settings, and businesses portrayed in it are products of the author's imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
First published by Crown Publishers, Inc., 201 East 50th Street, New
York, New York 10022. Member of the Crown Publishing Group.