Among the list of the Seven Deadly Sins, gluttony, alongside lust and well-performed greed, is the most fun. Sidling up to a buffet and knocking back a couple of roast chickens whole? There are worse ways to go.
The following gluttons’ reading list might serve as a guide to living life to the largest. It may also serve as a series of (cruelly?) well-timed cautionary tales for all those about to go crazy on the pie.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
Augustus Gloop is the first child evicted from Willy Wonka’s
child-torture theme park chocolate factory. This is because Augustus is a horrendous glutton and has been airlifted into a factory made exclusively of candy. He was set up for failure, and he obliges by falling into a chocolate river—a liquid joyride of undeniable pleasure, I calls it—and having his bulk wedged into a tube. But, you know, Augustus is the “great big greedy nincompoop” here, and not the owner of a plant with lax safety regulations and a devil-may-care attitude toward its tree-of-knowledge temptations.
The Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri
One can only assume Dante’s description of the level of hell reserved for gluttons is similar to what was going on behind the scenes at the Wonka factory. For indulging too much in life, you will, in the afterlife, be subjected to the three gaping maws of Cerberus. Oh, and here’s Virgil with the weather: “It is still raining here, folks. Looks like pus, feces, and hail. Expect severe storms for the rest of eternity.”
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
A success story! Sometimes being a ravenous eater turns you into a beautiful butterfly, spoiler alert.
A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin
The king is dead. Long live the king. Robert Baratheon, first of his name, was also first in line at the tavern, the local Golden Corral, and myriad King’s Landing brothels. The man never knew the word enough, and the capital’s coffers bled as a result. And then Robert bled, too, done in by too many Merlots near one too many sharp, pointy things and scheming in-laws. Let this be a lesson, future monarchs (cough Joffrey, you abject failure of a person cough): when you cannot fit into your armor anymore, it’s time to call Jenny Craig and drop the Jenny from the Block that Littlefinger hooked you up with.
Dune, by Frank Herbert
Thanksgiving is upon us. There will soon be (or perhaps already is?) a glut of foodstuffs on the table, leaving strained pants buttons in its wake. Perhaps the feast would be more amenable if you had anti-gravity suspensors to keep your meaty flesh bag aloft. It works for the nefarious Baron Harkonnen, who uses his suspensors to provide his corpulent self the ability to walk upright, which is a late-night infomercial waiting to happen.
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Not only is Shelob an enormous spider, but she is an enormously “fat,” “bloated,” and man-hungry spider who will stop at nothing to consume everyone and everything—be they hobbits or Orcses, Precious. But at least she doesn’t explode out of a giant banana!
The Keys to the Kingdom, by Garth Nix
In Nix’s series of young Arthur Penhaligon’s confrontations with the Morrow Days, Drowned Wednesday carries the flabby torch. She ate noon and dusk, y’all. Also, she is a whale, and her special key is in the shape of a fork. Flaunt it if you got it.
Who’s your favorite fictional glutton?