Short Books £12.99
Review: The Hunger and the Howling of Killian Lone, By Will Storr
Can't stand the hero? Leave the kitchen
Rob Sharp is a freelance journalist specialising in arts and culture. He was on staff at The Independent from July 2007 to December 2011, first as a features writer, and then as the paper’s arts correspondent. He has written for a wide range of newspapers and magazines. For more information visit his website, www.robsharp.com or email him at email@example.com.
Sunday 03 March 2013
Will Storr is a versatile, imaginative, committed long-form journalist with a populist touch. He is often brave with regard to his article choices. A 2011 piece on the rape of men in Uganda was recognised with an Amnesty Media Award last year, while his non-fiction book The Heretics, in which he tackles contemporary heretical beliefs, was released in February. To have non-fiction and fiction books published within a month of each other is impressive, but it's what you might expect from such a talented, ambitious writer.
Like much of Storr's best non-fiction, The Hunger and The Howling of Killian Lone is told in the first person. Lone is a bullied, shy case-study in low self-esteem. His mother ritually humiliates him because she hates men, we are told. His father is a passive spectator to the maelstrom of his domestic life, but Lone is saved by his great-aunt Dorothy. She teaches him cooking, he shows prodigal talent, and wins a minor apprenticeship with Max Mann, his Michelin-starred culinary hero. Mann turns out to be a sociopath, and Lone is given a choice: does he play by the rules to get ahead, or cheat and risk betraying the trust of those who love him?
The joy of this book is in anticipating and discovering where Storr will take the story next. While on the face of it, this is a fairytale, with a safe, tried-and-tested formula, there is more than a little Patrick Süskind and some of the more experimental end of the men's magazine market in its pages, pushing it into the darker reaches of the myth-making spectrum. Such ingredients could be a gratuitous overture to a specific demographic if Storr weren't primarily concerned with what motivates young men: insecurity and the desire to be recognised. When Storr tackles Lone's self-loathing, his realisation that his heroes are self-constructed stereotypes, and the fact that no amount of success can change who we are, the writing is at its strongest.
This is a fine, well-crafted debut. The sentences never stutter. Many of the kitchen anecdotes – often involving physical and verbal abuse – are based on real incidents. To research it, Storr worked double shifts at London restaurants over a four-year writing period. That clearly wasn't easy, yet this is painless entertainment – one of many reasons to sing its praises.
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Saneie Masilela, 9, marries Helen Shabangu, 53 years his senior, for the second time
- 2 Apple has installed security backdoors on 600m iPhones and iPads, claims security researcher
- 3 UK pirates will get four warning letters a year
- 4 Man takes most pointless Uber cab ride of all time
- 5 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley star in trailer for new Alan Turing film The Imitation Game
It looks like Krusty the Clown is the major Simpsons character death
Russell T Davies wants your 'sexcapades' for new web series Tofu about modern sex culture
Star Wars 7: Plot details 'leak', with sequel's opening sequence and premise revealed
Panic! At The Disco donate $1000 to gay rights group after Westboro Baptist Church picket
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains