PUBLISHERS OF LITERARY FICTION SINCE 1983
This surreal frenzy of melancholy and black humour is a fable concerning the fragility of a female self-image that is continually shaped by society. A flippant criticism from her father leads Alice to subjugate herself to varying degrees of humiliation in an effort to please all around her, as she becomes a vessel for food and sex. The resulting grotesque denouement involving cannibalism and twins escaped from a mental hospital is barely digestible.
Having spent her childhood and adolescence in Rome Sophie Jabes creates a mouthwatering backdrop of Italian foods and picturesque scenes, for an ugly tale of Alice and her beauty. Really how destructive can one comment be? Alice had the body that made all men in Rome weak at the knees and a little tighter in the pants. Yet her father begged to differ, to him she was no Marilyn Monroe. So her only option in finding her handsome prince was to be ‘nice to men’. So what do we do when our confidence and self-esteem is shattered and our egos bruised ?We eat! Alice ate and ate to fill the empty hollow feeling of her father’s words and learn what it was to be nice to men. Experiencing sex for the first time, her need for answers grew more unruly and her sexual encounters more frequent. However her appetite was still insatiable. Alice grows in size until her exquisite body is no longer recognisable. This euro short story is dark and sickeningly twisted and will definitely make you think twice about ever over-eating.
Alice goes round Rome adoring herself until her father tells her she is not pretty and must therefore be 'nice to men'. So immediately she starts eating and eating, swelling up into a slumped mess unable to leave the house, while pleasuring any random man in return for food. This is lovingly described and Alice's speciality is eating at the same time as being 'nice'.
Alice is happy with her appearance, delighting in the looks she gets from boys on the streets of Rome, until she is told by her estranged father that, actually, she isn’t beautiful at all, and must settle for being nice instead. Trying to discover what 'nice' means, Alice starts comfort eating. As she piles on the pounds, she is picked up by a stranger and has sex with him. Soon, food and sex are inextricably bound up for her, but the number of clients who come for her ‘ice cream cornet’ blowjob diminishes as she gradually begins to turn herself into a human sausage. In the end, her only lovers are a pair of gorgeous twins who have escaped from a mental institution, and for them, she makes her ultimate meal…
Alice, the Sausage is one of Dedalus’ Euro Shorts, designed to be consumed in one sitting, and like all Dedalus’ erotic titles, the sex here is very far from mainstream. Indeed, it’s Alice’s diet, rather than sexual exploits, which is the real turn-on. Sophie Jabes’ fable on society’s obsession with appearance and women’s eternal desire to please and be pleasing is deliciously translated by Paul Buck and Catherine Petit. They have kept much of the lyrical, almost orgasmic style of the menus Alice consumes, with their lavish descriptions of pasta, pizza, sweets and ice cream, in the original Italian, providing a glossary at the end for those who don’t know their bocconcini from their baci Perugina. You may not be hungry for either food or sex by the time Alice submits to her gruesome, if logical, fate but your mouth will have watered more than a few times along the way.