The beginning of Adam Ross's first novel, Mr. Peanut
, is extraordinarily alluring. He introduces the reader to David Pepin, a man who immediately falls in love with his future wife, Alice, in a college class on Alfred Hitchcock; but over the course of their thirteen-year marriage, David develops the morbid habit of fantasizing about her demise. The reader peers voyeuristically into his thoughts and sees what David never dares to speak out loud: Alice falling on the train tracks, Alice conveniently being struck by lightning, Alice crumpling under a fallen crane
The elements of suspense are well set up and the hostile yet sexual nature of their relationship contributes to a sense of the bizarre. Alice's painful obesity is David's delight: "She was not his wife but a giant she-creature, an overlarge sex pet: his to screw, groom, and maintain"....
Beyond the Book
When asked in an interview if there was any particular event that inspired Mr. Peanut
, Adam Ross responded that: "In 1995, my father told me the strangest, most suspicious story about my cousin, who had severe peanut allergies and was also morbidly obese. According to her husband, he arrived home to find her sitting at the kitchen table with a plate of peanuts in front of her, and upon seeing him she stuffed a handful into her mouth and then went into anaphylatic shock. Her last words to him were, 'Call 911.'" (read the interview)
It may seem strange that eating something as tiny as a peanut could cause a violent allergic reaction strong enough to kill a person, however, Ross does not exaggerate the severity of what is known as...