My wife introduced me to Gordon Ramsay a year or two ago. At first, I just saw episodes of Hell's Kitchen in passing. Then I started watching episodesMy wife introduced me to Gordon Ramsay a year or two ago. At first, I just saw episodes of Hell's Kitchen in passing. Then I started watching episodes of Kitchen Nightmares. Finally, I made it through the final ¾ of the most recent season of Master Chef.
I was sucked in by Gordon's passion. His outspokenly blunt assessments of the weaknesses of restaurants, chefs, and restaurant food. Because of his shows, I've begun to have a more critical eye towards restaurants and the quality of the food I eat. I'm taking more of an interest in “fancy” food and the real skill and creativity that goes into high end restaurants.
When I saw that the local library had a Kindle copy of this book, I was intrigued. I've wanted to know more about Gordon Ramsay: what makes him tick, how he built his food and media empire, how he deals with the many challenges to his time, etc.
This book was published in November, 2006. It ends on his very first entry into American TV, so it's not very up to date. The vast, vast bulk of the book covers Ramsay's early life, his aborted soccer career, and his early years learning to cook.
There are only a few, short, chapters on his career after he opened his first restaurant. There is next to no information on what it took to open and manage multiple restaurants, what it took to write multiple books, run multiple TV shows, or juggle all of the different demands in his time. I got a lot of information on his early life, but next to nothing about what it's like to be Gordon Ramsay today.
On the plus side, Ramsay's voice comes through quite clearly in this book. I don't know whether he wrote it himself or if he had someone ghost write it. Either way, it doesn't seem to matter. The breezy, vulgar style of the book sounds exactly like Ramsay sounds on screen. It's akin to sitting and listening to Ramsay reminisce on his early career, challenges, and successes. I very much enjoyed the style and tone of the book.
I was struck by how very hard Ramsay worked to get where he is today. He spent years working 80-90 hour weeks in the kitchen. He endured endless abuse from senior chefs (and not so senior chefs) just to learn as much as he could. He spent several weeks literally working 20 hours a day, to earn the money he needed and to learn the skills he needed even more. Whatever level of wealth he has today, I'd find it very hard to say that he hasn't earned every bit of it.
Overall, I very much enjoyed reading Ramsay's story. I just wanted a much deeper look at it what it took to open restaurants number 2-10. And what it took to run the restaurants while appearing on TV shows. And a look at how much control or influence he has over the style and content of what airs each week. From that perspective, this book was a disappointment. From other perspectives, it was a lot of fun....more
It's time to throw in the towel on this one. It's been on my "currently reading" shelf for 7 months now. It's time to move it to the "started-not-finiIt's time to throw in the towel on this one. It's been on my "currently reading" shelf for 7 months now. It's time to move it to the "started-not-finished" shelf.
I bought this book last February, when Amazon had it on sale for just $1.99. I'd heard other conservatives reference it, as a good insight into the Reagan years and the problems President Reagan dealt with. I'd hoped it would be both entertaining and informative. It wasn't.
At the outset, I thought the diaries were bland and mechanical but I kept pressing through. I had a moment of optimism when I read the January 18 1983 entry. Reagan said: "I think I've been doing wrong in these diaries for 3 yrs. I've made them a logbook of the days schedule & those schedules are all in the archives. I guess I should be noting other things so I'll start now." The entries got a little bit better but they still weren't what I was looking for.
Mostly, I found the entries to be short on real detail and repetitive. I was looking for vivid pictures of the various world leaders and important figures that Reagan interacted with. What I got were generalities ("We got along well and I think he'll be a true friend"). Most of the entries seemed to fit into one of several templates. For instance, while visiting a foreign nation he'd often write: "We drove the streets and the people lined the side for miles each way. We were told it was the most enthusiastic reception any American had ever been given." On domestic politics, he'd frequently write: "Meet with House R's. They're for us but powerless against the D's". Or: "Met with Senate R's. Sometimes I think they're more against us than the D's are". Or: "Gave a speech. Calls have been coming in 10-1 in our favor".
I learned some things while reading the book. It was especially interesting to see early mentions of people like Donald Rumsfeld, who would later have much more prominent roles in other administrations. But in the end, it felt like I was wading through a lot of uninteresting, repetitious entries to get to those nuggets. I hardly ever picked it up and read it. I finally decided that I should admit defeat and concentrate on something else....more
I'd previously heard of The Satanic Verses and "Salman Rushdie". I knew that there had been a fatwa against him because of his novel. But that was preI'd previously heard of The Satanic Verses and "Salman Rushdie". I knew that there had been a fatwa against him because of his novel. But that was pretty much all I knew about Rushdie or about The Satanic Verses.
This is Rushdie's memoir about the years that he spent under the Iranian government's threat of murder. It's the only thing I've ever read by Rushdie, so I don't know whether the pacing and atmosphere is typical of his works or not.
Overall, I would describe the book as a long, slow slog. It was hard to read. Sure, it was long. But even so, it usually doesn't take me 5 months to get through a book. Rushdie spends a lot of time talking about his early life, his career up until The Satantic Verses, his friends, his enemies, the basic events of his life, etc.
The book is tedious but that very tediousness could be a deliberate affection. (Or it could just be Rushdie. I suspect it's just Rushdie, but I'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt.) His life, for 10 years, was a very tedious one. He lived under constant police supervision. He couldn't go outside of his home unless the entire trip had been precleared first, something that could take days. He couldn't even take a walk on the spur of the moment. He had to move often and was largely cut off from both friends and family. The very tediousness of the book thus reflects the tediousness of his own life.
The entire book is narrated in the third person. That may be deliberate. Rushdie talks about feeling like "Joseph Anton", his pseudonym, is a separate person from himself. If so, it's not done well. He refers to himself in the third person before, during, and after the fatwa. Either way, it quickly grew tiresome.
The fight over The Satanic Verses is interesting though. I was surprised by how much non-Muslims hated him for writing the book and "stirring up all that trouble". Outside of the literary world, very few people were willing to defend him, his book, or the general right of free speech against the Muslim's supposed right of outrage.
The British government, in particular, appeared to be far more worried about international consequences than about fundamental human rights. I've always admired Maggie Thatcher, but her Conservative government did very little to defend Rushdie. (Sure, they provided round the clock protection. But they did nothing in the realm of positive PR or moral defense.)
Rushie may be, as other reviewers claim, an arrogant jerk. But that in no way limits his right (or anyone else's right) to free speech. True barbarism is lies in trying to kill a man for his beliefs. True moral courage lies in defending a man's right to his own beliefs. As a portrayal of a nation's (indeed, a world's) defense of human rights, this was a very valuable book....more
It's not the author's thesis that I disagreed with, it was his (or his editor's) organization of that thesis. The chapter organization was muddled andIt's not the author's thesis that I disagreed with, it was his (or his editor's) organization of that thesis. The chapter organization was muddled and ideas didn't necessarily flow well within chapters, let alone between chapters. I think I agree with the author's thesis. It's a shame that it wasn't better presented....more
I've enjoyed Dick Van Dyke ever since I saw Marry Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a child. Later in life, I saw episodes of The Dick Van Dyke sI've enjoyed Dick Van Dyke ever since I saw Marry Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a child. Later in life, I saw episodes of The Dick Van Dyke show and enjoyed them too. So, when I saw this book pop up in the library, I eagerly snagged it.
It was a very easy and engaging read. The book sounds exactly like Dick Van Dyke—as I read, I could easily hear his voice in my head and it sounded exactly like the Dick Van Dyke that I’ve heard in interviews before.
The book was the story of his life, mostly as collected through representative stories and vignettes. There were chapters dealing with The Dick Van Dyke Show (one of the best times of his life), Mary Poppins (a movie he still loves), and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (a movie that he resisted making for a long time and a movie that he feels justifies his initial low opinion of the script).
Along the way, I learned about Dick Van Dyke the political activist, the sailor, and the Sunday School teacher, and husband. I really enjoyed the glimpse into his “lucky life”, the people he knew, and the times he lived through. ...more