Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Supper Club by Lara Williams

Those evenings, sitting on the living-room floor, laptops to our sides and an array of paper scattered across the floor, drinking wine and listening to music, were suffused with a warmth like nothing else I'd ever felt. I thought of it as the same feeling people get when planning their wedding. It felt enormous and essential and transitory: this papier-mâché beast that we were trying to carve into form.

Did I like this book? Or did I hate it? I'm going to split the difference and just say "yes".

Supper Club by Lara Williams
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2019
Digital review copy via Edelweiss

To stave off loneliness in college, our narrator Roberta takes up cooking. But this isn't one of those sumptuous, charming foodie novels that has your mouth watering; instead, there was something a little gross, slightly dank, and funky about the food. (Williams has our narrator observe that our appetites tip close toward revulsion.) There was an extreme focus on body that reminded me of Otessa Moshfegh and Siri Hustvedt; same with the myopic self focus of our main character.

Roberta comes under the thrall of a reckless friend, Stevie; their relationship is obsessive. With Stevie, Roberta's cooking transforms into the Supper Club, a feminist, living art project in which women eat until sick. Drugs, drinks, dancing -- they brazenly take up space. For Roberta, it's freeing.

The dinner clubs aren't the heart of the story, though; Roberta's challenges with space and relationships, her own self-worth and her future are at the center. I think I would have adored this book in my 20s; now, freshly 40, I was a little exhausted by the drama and our narrator's anxious ennui. But so much of Roberta's anxieties were resonant, familiar, although her deeds were foreign to me. (For all her worries about being boring and tame, she was pretty daring, I thought.)

There was this thing with weight gain and women taking up space that I'm not sure about; it felt discomforting and a tiny bit fetishistic, but as an obese woman I think my experience with space and body weight and eating is different than these characters struggling with 30 lbs.

This would be a brilliant book club read; I'm filled with questions after finishing, and I need someone(s) to chat it out with me.


  1. Oh wow. I featured this one today because it looks like something I would love. Now that I've read your thoughts, I'm even more curious, but I wonder if I'll relate at all beyond the cooking part. LOL.

    1. I cannot wait to see what you think of it! It was v unexpected for me!