…and we were just a couple posts back (it’s my drink of choice if taken hostage by the current administration or if you want to win me over…yeah people, all it takes is a Pepsi. No need to pop that Crissy. Save your money for the shoes you’re going to need to go with that Pepsi when you try to win me over. Did you really think all it took to get to me was a silly ol’ can of soda?).
Alas, I can no longer drink them the way I used to, and that’s sooooo hard for me. I was weaned on the stuff. I swear, my mom’s front-feeders must have been loaded with it because she used to drink them all day long, and, consequently, when I was born, so did I. You know how folks rolled back in the day. Mothers would give their toddlers soda, or better yet…
…KOOL-AID…in a baby bottle (don’t act like I was the only one), sit them in front of the tv, and go about their business. These days, that’s enough to bring Child Protective Services down on your head, but back then, it was par for the parental course (in my neighborhood, anyway), and I’m a tougher, better, well-educated, Pepsi-appreciating person because of it. So what, I had a cavity or ten? That’s why they make dentists and fillings. All those sweet drinks have been keeping the ADA up and running for years.
But, of course, now I know better. Too much sugar is bad for the body (in more ways than one), even though it tastes as good as hell. The more Pepsi’s I drink, the tighter my clothes fit, so I’m down to drinking mostly bottled water and these things…
…which are super-delish and come in a variety of excellent flavors (like White Grape, Apple & Pear, Orange Cream, etc.). They’re carbonated just like sodas, yet have no calories or sugar whatsoever. So I might not be able to do sodas that much anymore, but I can suck these bad boys down all day without the threat to my waistline.
I can also still read about sodas even though I can’t indulge, and it’s a good thing I can because I happened to come across an absolutely BRILLIANT, INCREDIBLE, OUTRAGEOUSLY ENTERTAINING NOVEL about the invention of one of the most popular soft drinks in the world—something hilariously called Rhubarilla. I’ve been holed up with this book all weekend, and it’s been one of the best reads EVER. There just aren’t words enough to describe how much I’m enjoying this…thing. Hell, I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s like, I don’t know, part Victorian fairy tale, part fantasy, part Fellini flick, part farce, straight delightful bonkers. I would have been finished with it by now, but it’s so good, I’m savoring it, page by page, drawing out the experience as long as I possibly can.
The name of this wonderful piece of fiction is Intoxicated, and that’s exactly what I’ve been the whole time I’ve been reading it.
The author is an obviously wickedly imaginative man by the name of John Barlow, and boy, would I love to have a look at what’s inside his head (or not). This is one of those books that makes a reader marvel and makes a writer wish for the capacity to come up with something so insanely good. The novel is just bursting with verve and nerve and Technicolor and wit and waaaaaaaaaaay outside-of-the-box coolness. It’s so exquisite, it’s making me gush, and I haven’t gushed like this about a book in a long time, especially when I have my own book to be gushing over right now.
Still, this is a real gem of a novel, and I just can’t say enough about it. But don’t just take my word for it. Check out what the Washington Post had to say:
John Barlow is back with another gastronomical story that’s as surprising, funny and satisfying as a good belch… The British writer is something of a master at concocting what could be called “sentimental grotesques,” and Intoxicated, a novel about the development of an improbable soft drink made from rhubarb, delivers a strange but irresistible mix of flavors… It’s almost not fair how much he makes us care for these silly, vulnerable people… but Intoxication delivers the goods. It’s the real thing.
I just knew I was going to end up longing for the sharp, burn-the-lining-out-of-your-nose acidic taste of Pepsi while I was reading the book, but, interestingly, I haven’t. I’ve been longing for some Rhubarilla instead. How nuts is that? It’s so wildly-insane-yet-plausible a concept, you end up fantasizing about the taste.
It’s probably a good thing there is no Rhubarilla, because I’m sure I’d be sprung. Who knew words alone could create an addiction? John Barlow is The Crack Man. A damn good one, but still, a dealer of heady stuff. You won’t want to come down after you read his book. As soon as I finish, I’m picking up his previous collection of novellas, Eating Mammals. His words are so good, so pure—that good shit—I just have to have another hit.