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Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography Kindle Edition
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New York Times bestseller
An unprecedented behind-the-scenes view into the life of Anthony Bourdain from the people who knew him best
When Anthony Bourdain died in June 2018, fans around the globe came together to celebrate the life of an inimitable man who had dedicated his life to traveling nearly everywhere (and eating nearly everything), shedding light on the lives and stories of others. His impact was outsized and his legacy has only grown since his death.
Now, for the first time, we have been granted a look into Bourdain’s life through the stories and recollections of his closest friends and colleagues. Laurie Woolever, Bourdain’s longtime assistant and confidante, interviewed nearly a hundred of the people who shared Tony’s orbit—from members of his kitchen crews to his writing, publishing, and television partners, to his daughter and his closest friends—in order to piece together a remarkably full, vivid, and nuanced vision of Tony’s life and work.
From his childhood and teenage days, to his early years in New York, through the genesis of his game-changing memoir Kitchen Confidential to his emergence as a writing and television personality, and in the words of friends and colleagues including Eric Ripert, José Andrés, Nigella Lawson, and W. Kamau Bell, as well as family members including his brother and his late mother, we see the many sides of Tony—his motivations, his ambivalence, his vulnerability, his blind spots, and his brilliance.
Unparalleled in scope and deeply intimate in its execution, with a treasure trove of photos from Tony's life, Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography is a testament to the life of a remarkable man in the words of the people who shared his world.
“Woolever herself stays at arms length, to powerful effect, giving her cast of characters room to air their Bourdain grievances, both petty and life-altering, and unroots some rather profound conclusions—almost Parts-Unknown-narration-level profound—about the man.” -- Esquire.com
“Laurie Woolever, a writer and editor who was Anthony Bourdain's longtime assistant, uses quotes to bring readers deeper into his world. . . . Through details shared by his friends and family, we learn more about Bourdain's kind heart, how much he wanted to be a writer, his habit of fidgeting when he was uncomfortable, and the dark world he inhabited, especially when traveling.” -- Food & Wine
“Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography is a tribute to how [Anthony Bourdain] and his legacy live on.” -- The Week
“A fascinating account…Bourdain's fans will find it impossible to put down.” -- Booklist
"An unfiltered study of Bourdain's life, as seen by the people closest to him. . . . Woolever compiles the perspectives of Bourdain’s friends and family about the way [his] professional experiences impacted him, including during his tumultuous final year. . . . Any Anthony Bourdain fan, of which there are many, will enjoy this thoughtful tribute to an impactful cultural figure." -- Library Journal --This text refers to the paperback edition.
About the Author
Laurie Woolever is a writer and editor, and spent nearly a decade assisting Anthony Bourdain, with whom she coauthored the cookbook Appetites in 2016. She’s written about food and travel for the New York Times, GQ, Food & Wine, Lucky Peach, Saveur, Dissent, Roads & Kingdoms, and others, and has worked as an editor at Art Culinaire and Wine Spectator.--This text refers to the paperback edition.
- ASIN : B08SMH1JW4
- Publisher : Ecco (September 28, 2021)
- Publication date : September 28, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 60426 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 462 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #165,432 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reading Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography, it's clear that those impressions were hardly a fluke. The line separating Bourdain the person from Bourdain the TV character was narrowly thin. While there were certainly differences between who he was and what he allowed himself to reveal in front of the TV camera, what you saw or read was largely who he really was. A brilliant writer, a charismatic and funny host, a lover of food and travel and people, constantly curious and knowledgable, narcissistic but also incredibly self-aware, one of the coolest cats around but a giant nerd at heart, an introvert in many ways, but one who could command the attention of an entire room and made himself the center of that attention and who gave his time selflessly to those around him. A former heroin addict, Bourdain was constantly finding and feeding new addictions to keep him clean, from travel to jiu jitsu, and romantic obsessions that he knew were doomed, such as his love affair with Asia Argento.
Writer and editor Laurie Woolever was Bourdain's personal assistant, his lieutenant, for over a decade and co-authored Appetites: A Cookbook and World Travel: An Irreverent Guide with him. For The Definitive Oral Biography, she interviewed over 90 people that knew Bourdain at various points of his life, including his brother, Christopher, his mother, Gladys (who passed away in 2020), ex-wives Nancy and Ottavia, daughter Ariane, and those who worked closest with him, such as producer-director for Zero Point Zero Production, Helen Cho and Tom Vitale (whose own book about working and traveling with Bourdain, In the Weeds: Around the World and Behind the Scenes with Anthony Bourdain, releases in September), Bourdain's literary agent Kimberly Weatherspoon, chefs José Andrés, Nigella Lawson (who co-hosted The Taste with Bourdain), Eric Ripert, and Roy Choi, as well as David Simon and Eric Overmyer, the cocreators of the HBO series, Treme, for which Bourdain wrote, movie director Darren Aronofsky, CNN reporters Anderson Cooper, Christiane Amanpour, and president of CNN worldwide, Jeff Zucker, and many, many, many more.
Through all these various personalities, we're given an incredibly well-rounded, and, more importantly, honest, portrait of the late Bourdain, the good, the bad, and the ugly. As Woolever notes in her introduction, this biography is far from a hagiography and makes no attempts to deify the man it's about, just as Bourdain no doubt would have wanted. There's no sugar-coating the lesser aspects of Bourdain's personality, his addictions, or the questionable decisions he made along the way, including his toxic relationship with Argento and his final choice to commit suicide at the age of 61 in a Le Chambard hotel room. Even a year or two removed from Bourdain's death, you can feel the shock and grief and confusion in the words of those interviewed as they continue to struggle with the emotional fallout and process his reasons and behavior during the last year of his life as he was consumed by his affections and infatuation for Argento, a relationship that Bourdain was keenly aware was doomed to fail right from the start, telling friends, "It's gonna end so badly." Neither Bourdain or Argento come across particularly well in the accountings and recollections compiled here of that time, with the latter almost appearing as a virtual hurricane that upended Bourdain's life and wreaked devastation upon those closest to him, while Bourdain himself kowtows to the Italian actresses demands at the expense of his own long-term personal and professional relationships, and, ultimately, seemingly, his own mental health and well-being.
Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography is a wide-ranging exploration of the man's life and larger-than-life legacy from those who knew him best. It's not always a pleasant read, particularly in the build-up to, and exploration of the aftermath of, his suicide, but for fans of the man hoping for a peek behind the curtain it certainly is a necessary read, for better or worse.
[Note: I received an advance copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley.]
Laurie Woolever, who was Bourdain's assistant for nearly a decade and co-authored "Appetites: A Cookbook" and "World Travel: An Irreverent Guide" with him, admirably pieces together Bourdain's private and professional life with input from his mother, two ex-wives, daughter, brother, publishers, and the producers, writers and technicians on his TV shows. The main person missing from this tapestry is Asia Argento, the Italian actress Bourdain fell in love with, and for whom he left his wife and began alienating friends. His suicide followed a tabloid frenzy suggesting she was cheating on him. She's not interviewed, but numerous friends and colleagues feel his obsession with her was his downfall.
One of the book's most fascinating chapters details the writing and publication of Kitchen Confidential, his frank and profane memoir, which changed his life, brought him fame and magnified his best and worst traits. Although those interviewed are mainly friends and family, this oral biography doesn't shy away from examining Bourdain's loneliness, addictions, abrasive nature and bouts of depression. This is an outstanding and illuminating biography of a complex man plagued with many demons.
Anthony Bourdain wrote and lived with an intoxicating brashness that hid his depression and addictions, and this fascinating oral history delves deep to create a true portrait worthy of the man.
Felt terrible about how he passed.
So, I took a chance on buying this book to get background and another perspective.
I don't review often and don't feel good at negative reviews but ,really this is all third person boring.
As a casual fan, haven't yet read anything that I didn't know or could have guessed.
Haven't finished, cause I'm not motivated, but will update if ending is great.
Anyway, really enjoyed this. Between this and the documentary, it’s been nice to have some insight to a pretty complicated guy who lived and incredible life.