Bryan Lee O’Malley
Ballantine Books, 2014
To show just how diverse good food writing can be, today’s review is a graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley, the creator of Scott Pilgrim. In Seconds, Katie has a pretty good life — she’s running her own restaurant, with plans to open a bigger one. Then a series of disasters cause Katie to want a do-over and like magic, a special mushroom appears that offers her a second (get it?) chance.
Katie quickly takes advantage of the do-over mushrooms, making an even bigger mess of her life, and that of everyone around her, because the mushrooms, the restaurant, all of it, actually belongs to Liss, the kitchen spirit that lives in the restaurant. Each night Katie eats a mushroom and resets time in the hopes of making her life perfect, and in the process conjures up old boyfriends, old business ventures, and lots of bad feelings. And she’s supremely pissed off Liss.
O’Malley’s graphic style is great, very vibrant and sharp, and the dialogue is smart and witty. The author also really knows food and consulted with chefs and food writers when creating the book.
The characters are are bit flat in places but I suspect it’s hard to develop characters within the confines of speech bubbles, and as mentioned, the snark and wit is spot on.
The overall them is one of “be careful what you wish for”, but there’s a desperation to Katie, to make things right, to have the perfect life she feels she’s entitled to because of her talent and hard work. The ending is a bit too simplified, but it’s still a fun (fast) read that most fans of food writing and food fiction will likely enjoy.