New & notable: ‘Sweetness #9’ Stephan Eirik Clark

Posted Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

Sweetness #9

by Stephan Eirik Clark

Little, Brown, $26

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Edan Lepucki, author of the now-bestselling novel California, is paying it forward.

Lepucki appeared on The Colbert Report on July 21 to thank Colbert Nation for buying her debut book. It got a huge bump when host Stephen Colbert declared war against online retailer Amazon for its negotiation tactics with Hachette (his and Lepucki’s publisher).

Lepucki then recommended Hachette author Stephan Eirik Clark’s debut novel, Sweetness #9. “If you’re looking for another book to bump, that would be the one,” Colbert said.

Sweetness #9 is the story of apprentice flavor chemist David Leveraux, who’s tasked with testing a new artificial sweetener for one of the top flavor production companies. Trouble is, Sweetness #9 is causing some sinister side effects in laboratory animals.

Voicing his concerns leaves David out of a job and eventually working for a rival company, while Sweetness #9 goes on to become the industry’s No. 1 food additive — used as ubiquitously as fructose corn syrup in a huge list of prepared and packaged products.

And, sure enough, his wife, daughter and son begin to exhibit the side effects — obesity, lethargy and “a generalized dissatisfaction with life,” just like the lab animals. The truth is out there, but can David own up to it?

— Celeste Williams

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