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The Epicure's Lament by Kate Christensen
In The Epicure's Lament, Hugo Whittier is an ex-gigolo who, at 40 year of age, is happily facing death from Buerger's disease, unless he stops smoking, which he has no plans to do. He is content to be alone, smoke, cook, read, and write endlessly in his journals, from which his story is told. Hugo's solitude is broken when his brother arrives after leaving an unhappy marriage. Hugo attempts to foster a reconciliation between the couple, just so he can be alone again. Then his ex-wife moves in also, bringing along a child she claims to be his. Bearing a grudge against the world and watching it through his cynical and perverse vision, Hugo manipulates the lives of those around him with his own ultimate pleasure in mind. Kate Christensen's protagonist is a lively creation, as unlikeable as he is, and his journals explore a view of life full of wit, humor, and insights. The Epicure's Lament has received positive reviews with the San Francisco Chronicle saying, "As a reader you don't mind stepping into Hugo's life and experiencing the world through his eyes; indeed, you'll find yourself looking forward to it."