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A Carnivore's Inquiry

3.57  ·  Rating Details  ·  355 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
Sabina Murray's first book since she won the PEN/Faulkner Award for The Caprices seduces with its dark delight in her taboo subject.
When we meet Katherine, the winning-and rather disturbing-twenty-three-year-old narrator, she has just left Italy and arrived in New York City, but what has propelled her there is a mystery. She soon strikes up an affair with a middle-aged Rus
ebook, 304 pages
Published December 1st 2007 by Grove Press (first published 2004)
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Jeffrey Keeten
”Sometimes you want to stop doing something, but it’s not enough to want to stop. Something else has to happen.”

 photo Raft20of20the20Medusa_zpsmdnbx0an.jpg
The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault

The unreliable narrator of this tale, Katherine Shea, lies to us as unreliable narrators tend to do. She doesn’t just lie to us, but also blurs the truth for herself. She isn’t a very good liar. I sussed out what was going on very quickly, and then it became more of a matter of understanding why.

We don’t have to look any further than her mo
Jun 18, 2015 CluckingBell rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-stars
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 22, 2010 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really amazing. A transcendent and important work.

Also, for any would-be writers out there who are interested in how to achieve the voice of the unreliable narrator: look no further than this novel.

I loved this book so much (which was, in turn, recommended to me by my good friend Professor Min Hyoung Song of Boston College), that I even wrote the author a gushy little fan letter to her Facebook page. (I did not dare ask for her to be my friend, however: this is one scary book, and anyone capable
Anna  (Bananas!)
The most beautiful, compelling, subtle book you may ever read about cannibalism. The character remained a bit of a mystery even at the end. However, I enjoyed all her thoughts on the subject matter within history and art, and also how her tragic mother tied into the story.

You know what's happening all along and yet it's still chilling when the truth is revealed.
Christina Johnston
Sep 19, 2014 Christina Johnston rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
2.5 out of 5 stars

I had a really mixed reaction to this book. On one level, I love the writing style and enjoyed the constant references to literature, history, and art. However, I loathe the main character. Simply put, she is a terrible person. I also totally figured everything out in the plot within the first 30% of the book...therefore, it really dragged and was pretty boring until the last few chapters where I was proven right. Also, this book really isn't for the faint of heart. IT IS FREAK
Jun 08, 2016 Absinthe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Reading the summary of this book, I could immediately tell how it ended, however I still greatly enjoyed the ride there. Murray's writing definitely isn't for everyone, but I rather liked how she framed the story with history lessons followed by narrative. There were a lot of questions I had that were left unanswered, but I find that this is because the author chose not to answer them as cannibalism, while definitely a theme of the story, is not the story that Murray is telling us. She is not on ...more
Anne Marie Farrell
I saw Sabina Murray on the Women and Darkness pannel at AWP in Minneapolis this year. She is clearly a very passionate woman (and also kind of intimidating, in the best possible way). As part of the pannel, she talked about this book and her character, so I had a slightly different expectation going into this book than most of the other books I read.
What I liked: It is incredible well-written. Katherine, as an unreliable narrator, is fantastic. The crafting of this novel overall was very well do
Nov 26, 2012 Jaime rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It seems that the author wants the main character to be some seductress that could make any man crazy enough to live with her even though she is already with a bunch of other strange men. However she and the other characters do not come off as the wild impulsive creatures the author wants them to be, but just unreal. You read the book and think, these are not real people.

The way too many accounts of real-life cannibals do not help either. They may be necessary to understand the main character be
Feb 20, 2010 Trish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Upon a second reading, I can say unequivocally that I like this novel. A lot.

The protagonist's affect, or lack thereof, reminds me of Morvern Callar. The book also puts me in mind of The Talented Mr. Ripley, the mix of urbanity and depravity.

I found myself hitting Wikipedia every few chapters, looking for more information on one of Katherine's digressions into famous carnivores in art, history, and literature.

The Raft of the Medusa also features in Julian Barnes' A History of the World in 10
Jun 26, 2015 Ryann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Renee Leech
Jul 14, 2016 Renee Leech rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The main character, Katherine, has an exciting and enviable life. In the 1990s, she would have been put on a pedestal as "the most interesting girl in the world." That is worth noting, because A Carnivore's Inquiry (why can't I put this in italics?) has a very 90s feel to it. There is a band called Intravenous, for one thing. Katherine globe-trots, has multiple men at her disposal for multiple purposes, and possesses the chic of childhood trauma. Though she shows no creativity herself (but she i ...more
Aug 03, 2008 Geeta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mark
Strange, oddly compelling book. I did not, as the jacket copy promised, find the main character particularly sympathetic, but I did find her interesting. Katherine Shea arrives in New York from Italy one day, and immediately hooks up with an older Russian writer of some celebrity. She moves in with Boris, and really doesn't do much but muse on literature and painting. This makes for a slow beginning, but once they rent a house in Portland, for her to stay in while he stays in New York and writes ...more
Dec 12, 2007 Dustin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: flesh eating bacteria
Shelves: crappy-books
Halfway through this, I realized that I just didn't care what happened in the rest of the book. I couldn't care less about the boring narrator or the uninteresting people she spent time with. There were some good moments in the beginning. The masturbating orangutan anecdote is perfect. Much of the cannibalism is interesting. But, in the end, this is a book filled with murders but hardly any blood, a book about a promiscuous woman with a string of lovers all over the world but no sex. The masturb ...more
Robert Wechsler
Mar 21, 2013 Robert Wechsler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book even though it is not my kind of novel, and there were times I considered putting it down, especially toward the end. What made the book for me were the asides, the historical stories, mostly about cannibalism or suspected cannibalism, almost Kemske (as in Floyd Kemske).

The novel is a youthful game, a first-person narrative by a young woman who is lost about the men she meets and without doing anything seduces, the father she ignores and the mother she loves and who seems to
An unusual and pleasantly sinister book with lots of tales of historical cannibalism woven into the plot. Found the narrator a little difficult - young, attractive, always able to pick up a new squeeze at the drop of a hat, etc. Subtle and interesting story telling.
Feb 23, 2009 Renee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Emotionally detached, interpersonally ADHD young woman roams thru people and states. Various carnage ensues.

Although this was a well-paced page-turner, and poses questions for reader initially, the protagonist Katherine reveals herself/her personality rather early on. She's not sympathetic - not that that's necessary for a good story - but...hmmmm...I guess things wrapped up a little predictably in the end. Or maybe it's Katherine's literary & historical digressions that while interesting, s
Jan 20, 2016 Lacey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I listened to this book on Audio CD. I was surprised by how long and drawn out this book felt. In the end I liked it but it really didn't get interesting until the 6th out of 8 CDs. I think it would have gotten my attention better without the long random history lectures all over the place.
Karen Moizer
Mar 07, 2016 Karen Moizer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This has to be one of the most tiresome books I've read in a long time. The write up on the back was so promising but the text between the covers did not live up to it.

I don't normally give up on books but I actually don't care what happens to any of the characters in this book.
Kristy Bryson
Not for the squeamish. Excellent book. Taboo topics. I wish I hadn't given my copy away!
Jul 19, 2016 Kitty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good-natured, cannibalistic romp. Do recommend.
Martha Larkin
Jul 02, 2015 Martha Larkin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not just sure what I read to be honest. I liked it, but I don't think it would be everyone's cup of tea.
Mar 07, 2015 Jerri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very unique and original tale.
Well that was entertaining enough. The twist wasn't all that surprising, but I appreciated the shout out to Alexander Pearce.
Sep 14, 2013 Kinohi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was an interesting read. Kind of slow, but it served the plot and character development I felt. There is a lot of symbolism throughout each of the stories and interactions on multiple levels. The jacket made some reference to this being more than a gothic novel, and made some lofty assertion about humanity. I thought the second assertion a bit of a stretch, but I did find it interesting the way it pointed out the multiple "cannibalistic" qualities found throughout our society and considered l ...more
Apr 20, 2016 Kathleen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2004
Apr 18, 2016 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK this book totally floored me ! One minute I was like 'you'r the killer' and the next I was 'no you are the one'. The character of Katherine was mesmerizing in places and in others I was wanting to hit her to get her to move. Her finding comfort in images and stories of cannibalism and murder are creepy but serve to show how aren't we all just looking for comfort/hungry for the next thing ... be it money, power or control or that new book !
Altogether a wonderful if creepy book.
Sep 06, 2007 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cannibals, friends of cannibals
so i finished this. the end was oddly unsatisfying, which was ironic after the amount of time the author spent discussing hunger. and maybe it was because i was on the train while i was finishing it, but i didn't feel like the events were explained fully enough. but i did think the narrator was an interesting character, and the writing is good, and the discussions of cannibalism were like little nuggets of nonfiction snuck into a novel, which i like.
Nov 28, 2011 Maria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a very strange experience with this book. As I was reading certain scenes, I KNEW what would happen next, almost as if I had read it before. Then I realized that I had read this book before, probably when it came out. But it took me over half the book before I recognized it! I've never forgotten about a book so completely as this one, so although it was pretty good, I'm lowering it a star for sheer forgettable-ness.
Dec 20, 2012 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, aussie
At first, this book really reminded me of "Here Kitty Kitty" (Jardine Libaire). She seems drunk, obsessive, self destructive, barreling down the hill into homeless (and hopeless), desperate hell. But then...then there is something else happening in this book. It's a very slow reveal, as the narrator is hiding from herself. And the freakish parts are told in such a nonfreakish way...they almost seem normal... Liked it a lot!
Jan 21, 2014 Heleen marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Gevonden in Switch in jan. 2014
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Sabina Murray was born in 1968 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She is of mixed parentage—her mother a Filipina from Manila, her father a former Jesuit scholastic turned anthropologist from Boston. Her parents met in Washington DC, where both were pursuing graduate degrees. At the age of two she moved to Perth with her family, when her father accepted a position at the University of Western Australia. ...more
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“They’d done a good job with the head, the great drooping lips and meaty cheeks. The soprano sang to the head for close to half an hour. I looked over at Boris. He was tapping on the floor with his foot. His pants had ridden up and the sock on his right foot—a thin black nylon sock—had slid into his shoe. There was about a two-inch space of exposed fleshy ankle. I reached down, carefully, slowly, and pulled up Boris’s sock. Boris looked over at me but didn’t care, and soon—without much explanation—the opera ended.” 0 likes
“He belonged to the Adirondack Club, or something like it. It meant that he had climbed all the Adirondacks. “How many Adirondacks are there?” I asked. And he answered me, but the information never made it into my head. I saw his mouth moving. I saw the number floating in the air and then it evaporated. I also saw, from Rand Randley’s overly friendly expression, that he was as tortured as I was by the conversation, but neither of us could seem to stop. “That’s a lot of mountains,” I said. “Can you excuse me for a minute?” 0 likes
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