Marc Basset has a well-deserved reputation as a pitiless restaurant critic. When he writes a devastating review of a celebrated restaurant, the chef commits suicide, roasting himself in his own fan-assisted oven, with Basset's review pasted to the door. Suddenly Basset is moved to do something he has never done before: apologize. Startled by the widow's forgiveness and absolution, he feels unexpectedly euphoric. In an effort to maintain this newfound state of bliss, he decides to gorge himself on contrition by apologizing to every person he has ever done wrong. And that's just the beginning. After a series of virtuoso expressions of regret, word of Basset's mollifying power spreads, and he is tapped to become Chief Apologist for the United Nations. His job is to travel the globe in his own Gulfstream V private jet, apologizing for everything from colonialism through exploitation to slavery. It is a role that brings him fame, wealth, and access to a lot of very good chocolate. But in a world overdosing on emotion, does Marc Basset really have the stomach to become the sorriest man in history? Built of delicate layers of heinous crime, forgiveness, and outrageous gastronomy, Jay Rayner's hilarious new novel is an arch comedy of modern appetite and etiquette.
I have been a restaurant critic for over a decade, written reviews of well over 700 establishments, and if there is one thing I have learned it is that people like reviews of bad restaurants. No, scratch that. They adore them, feast upon them like starving vultures who have spotted fly-blown carrion out in the bush. They claim otherwise, of course. Readers like to present themselves as private arbiters of taste; as people interested in the good stuff. I'm sure they are. I'm sure they really do care whether the steak was served au point as requested or whether the souffle had achieved a certain ineffable lightness. And yet, when I compare dinner to bodily fluids, the room to an S & M chamber (only without the glamor or class), and the bill to an act of grand larceny, why, then the baying crowd is truly happy. Don't believe me? Then why, presented with the chance to buy this ebook filled with accounts of twenty restaurants - their chefs, their owners, their poor benighted front of house staff - getting a complete stiffing courtesy of the sort of vitriolic bloody-curdling review which would make the victims call for their mothers, did you seize it with both hands?
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