Family Meal by Bryan Washington

Cam and Kai are a couple, it happened, perhaps to their surprise, and they are enjoying it until the death of Kai. This leads Cam to a drug-fueled, sex-addicted, food-denying life of grief. And then an old friend, TJ comes back into his life and it becomes even more complicated or simple depending on how you view life, family and its relationship with food.

One of the major themes in the book is recognising when you are loved and what is done out of love. Anything can be misinterpreted – concern seen as being too involved, wanting to know someone better as asking too much, not telling someone something as a desire to cut them out and then being completely surprised when they come to rescue you.

I enjoyed the changing perspective of the narrator from Cam to TJ and then Kai. Each person filled in some of the gaps in the story and more and more is revealed but in a very sparse form of writing. Cam is haunted by his dead partner Kai and some of their discussion take place in small snippets, each having its own page, floating in the middle but accentuating what is said. I also loved the photos that were included of the flowers, cherry blossom and streets although I am not really sure what they add to the story.

No punctuation for the dialogue is not a hinderance – sometimes it can be. The convention of new speaker, new line is followed so it isn’t all one big blob of words that you have to work hard at delineating speakers. What I am less sure about is what it adds or takes away from the telling of the story. Does it make the dialogue more a part of the narration? Thinking about how it would look on the page I can imagine that the amount of speech punctuation you would need for this book would take away some of the sparesness of both the writing and the appearance on the page.

The families are many, fluid and cook, all extremely well, knowing where the equipment is and moving around each other in a dance. It brings them together with the cooking sometimes being payment for accomodation, as a favour to a friend who may become more, and as sustenance. It is very symbolic that Cam denies himself food in grief.

A book to tuck into.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *