It's 1973, and David Leveraux has landed his dream job as a Flavorist-in-Training, working in the secretive industry where chemists create the flavors for everything from the cherry in your can of soda to the butter on your popcorn.
While testing a new artificial sweetener - Sweetness #9 - he notices unusual side-effects in the laboratory rats and monkeys: anxiety, obesity, mutism, and a generalized dissatisfaction with life. David tries to blow the whistle, but he swallows it instead.
Years later, Sweetness #9 is America's most popular sweetener - and David's family is changing. His wife is gaining weight, his son has stopped using verbs, and his daughter suffers from a generalized dissatisfaction with life. Is Sweetness #9 to blame, along with David's failure to stop it? Or are these just symptoms of the American condition?
David's search for an answer unfolds in this expansive novel that is at once a comic satire, a family story, and a profound exploration of our deepest cultural anxieties. Wickedly funny and wildly imaginative, Sweetness #9 questions whether what we eat truly makes us who we are.
©2014 Stephan Eirik Clark (P)2014 Hachette Audio
*Spoiler* Nazis are responsible for our global obesity?! Really? I'm no nationalist, but Is there anything we can't pin on them? People are planting bombs in the cereal aisle of grocery stores just because they're mad about artificial ingredients?! This story was outrageously ridiculous at it's exciting parts and mind-numbingly dull everywhere else. Ultimately, this story is more about the interpersonal and family struggles of a milquetoast than it is a commentary on the flavor industry. I'm so utterly shocked this weak novel received so much critical attention.
The topic of chemical additives in our food would be such a fertile topic, but this book is filled with missed opportunities. A lack luster central character, tangential side stories that did nothing to enhance the plot, and a fast attempt to tie it all together at the end. This could have been a story about intrigue, corporate politics and public scrutiny. But it was none of these. I was glad when it was over.
Sweetness #9 was one of the best books ever. The writing is elegant and concise, the story is compelling and beautifully told. Cleaver, witty, and thought provoking, the writer has woven a tale that spans decades yet feels perfect for the present day. Loved it!
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