Blanche’s Book Club: ‘Bourdain’.

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Books have been so hit-or-miss for me lately! I’m always so disappointed when I’m reading a book that isn’t really sucking me in, but it also makes THOSE kinds of books much more of a treat when I find them.

The latest great book I’ve read is: “Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography” by Laurie Woolever.

I only found out about this book because I stumbled across it at Barnes & Noble while I was stocking up on magazines (a monthly activity of mine).

As a fan of Anthony Bourdain, I couldn’t pass it up!

The book was put together by his long-time assistant Laurie, who interviewed 100 people in Bourdain’s life.

The stories they tell create a remarkably full, vivid, and nuanced vision of Tony’s life and work.

The book covers his entire life, from his childhood and teen years in New York, all the way to the stardom of “Kitchen Confidential” and “Parts Unknown.”

Through the shared sentiments of those closest to him, the reader gets an inside look at Bourdain’s motivations, ambivalence, vulnerability, blind spots, and brilliance.

Here are some quotes I took note of from the book:

When he first started to travel [on TV], he’s basically just this fucking bro, and all that travel made him worldly and wise. I think he saw that things are relatively meaningless. I think the travel was him running away — every new culture, every new TV project, was to fill the heroin void, so everything had to become more difficult, more extreme, more challenging, and you could see that throughout his entire television career, and the more he traveled, the more he saw the pain and suffering of it all. – Dave Chang

…There are people who are attracted to the edges of the world. And at the edges of the world, a lot of stuff is stripped away, a lot of bullshit, a lot of falsehoods, a lot of the stuff that anybody deals with in his normal life. Things are most elemental, or feel more raw, or more alive in some ways. The desire to travel to those places, I totally understand the appeal. I also understand the pain associated with it, and that it comes from — Just as comedy often comes from a dark place, if you are entirely content, you don’t spend two hundred days a year traveling the world. There’s a certain restlessness I think that is inherent in that desire. – Anderson Cooper

I want people to remember my dad as a person who would just open people up to a world outside their apartments, or wherever they’re living, and show them that there’s another side of the world, they might not even know it. And someone who makes people not afraid to explore and adventure into new things, and do new things, and not to be so scared, but to be very open-minded about everything. – Ariane Busia-Bourdain

This book covers it ALL, including a lot of details about Bourdain’s addiction, drug use, and suicide. If you are a Bourdain fan but haven’t read “Kitchen Confidential” yet, I’d start there and then pick up this. And remember, it’s an oral biography, so there’s no narrative — just quotes!

What oral histories or biographies have you read and enjoyed?

For more book recommendations, be sure to subscribe to the blog (look to the right) and follow me on Goodreads @thebitterlemon – where I share more of my book picks. Also, check out my printable bookmarks and Book Club Journal Pages in my Etsy Shop

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