Blood and Cutlets

Needless to say, after all the anticipation, Death: A Way of Life was not the best-seller the publishers had hoped for. In fact, it almost completely alienated audiences and critics alike.

When these words were written, several years ago now, they sparkled and gleamed with sun-drenched truth. No one can deny that Pierre Manniac’s truly unhinged retelling of his years as Monte Carlo’s favourite limb-remover was a ‘popular’ book. It was sensational, certainly, but it never gained the attention of a significantly sizeable set of people.

Sometimes these things take time to seep in. Not everyone creates a sensation with their first book, even when it does include a scene in which a pot-smoking giraffe kicks a panda over the edge of a cliff. If pressed, I would have said at the time that Manniac’s work would either catch light immediately or be put out for eternity. I speak metaphorically, of course. In any case I was wrong. Instead, Death: A Way of Life has done that peculiar thing: it has grown on people. Slowly, slowly, its stupefying madness has weaseled its way into readers’ affections. Admittedly, don’t expect to find it sitting on the bestseller lists anytime soon: but don’t be surprised if you find the middle classes namedropping it at dinner parties. ‘One is reminded, inevitably, of Pierre Manniac,’ says Hugh, swallowing the olive whole. And so on and so forth.

Time and tide and money-spinning sequels. Well, naturally. Like many writers, Manniac made the great mistake of writing a memoir covering his whole life, seemingly denying the possibility of a follow-up (at least, not until enough years had passed to make it worth our while). A common dilemma, just as commonly solved. To write a life is to pick and choose. One can write a life a hundred times without repeating oneself. There’s always something fresh that can be dredged up from the muck of a man’s existence. If new stories don’t exist, new perspective on old stories do. If that fails, let fiction do the rest.

All of which amounts to this: Pierre Manniac’s new memoir/novel/book/call-it-what-you-will is coming out soon and it’s called Blood and Cutlets. Make of that what you will. Suffice it to say that animals and death will both be involved, probably in large, unpalatable doses.

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