Text Publishing, $29.95 pb, 304 pp, 9781921758690
For a work that deals heavily with culinary aspirations, it is going to be hard to review Wayne Macauley’s brilliant new novel The Cook without reference to Masterchef, so let’s get it out of the way early. This year, after each new episode of the television show aired, the assorted snark-addled wits of the Fairfax press gathered online to do their mocking work. The mechanics of the show were pulled apart, and the comments section soon filled with the matching-set echoes of disdain and mockery. Filling their prose to breaking point with jokes – it wasn’t a sentence unless it tried to get a zinger away – the gathered souls confessed, through their sneers, that the show was nonetheless utterly compelling viewing.