My first exposure to Anthony Bourdain, via his show No Reservations, left me with with the sense of a true asshole who sneered down his nose with agin...moreMy first exposure to Anthony Bourdain, via his show No Reservations, left me with with the sense of a true asshole who sneered down his nose with aging punk-rock disdain at people and things he deemed beneath him, and, honestly, it seemed like most people and things were beneath him. For some reason, even though he crossed my Southern sensibilities and turned me off to him on that first exposure, I kept watching the show and realized that there is a lot more to him than that first impression suggested. No Reservations is now my favorite show and when I saw a copy of Kitchen Confidential for sale in the book store, I snapped it up and began reading it that night. I unfortunately wasn't able to keep his voice in my head (his delivery is a large part of the draw of his show for me) but the series of stories from his past that he lays out are captivating even when heard inside my skull as coming from the disembodied larynx of my standard reading voice.
Personally, I didn't find the shocking bits all that shocking. I've been backstage at good restaurants. I've heard it all before. Honestly, I'm not really all that hung up on food safety. Instead it was the parts dealing with his own erratic career path that kept me interested. Instead of leaving this book with the impression that Bourdain was an even bigger jerk than my first impression left me with (as someone suggested would happen), I left the last page of the book with an even more positive view of the guy. Sure, Bourdain is still cynical, obscene, and wears that brusque New York attitude like a badge of honor, but what stands out in his book is his glowing admiration for people who earned his respect for their willingness to work or pushing him down the right path as a chef (his almost loving references to Bigfoot and Pino are prime examples), his seeming compulsion to take in less than desirable underlings, and his complete willingness to point out when and where he screwed up. In this more recent update, he even points out that he learned he was wrong about Emeril Lagasse (as a chef and person, not as a TV Celebrity) and frequently comments that he isn't a top-tier chef because of his own mistakes. He even goes so far as to point out that the only reason he is able to hang out with and talk to the Michelin-starred chefs he always admired from afar is because of his notoriety as author and TV host.
This isn't some self-aggrandizing piece literary self-pleasuring. This is a very human piece of literature that reveals its author to be a man who may have grown up a couple of decades too late, but isn't too vain to admit that when he did it was in a large part because of those who took a chance on him and supported him when he was at his worse.(less)
This is a great cookbook and really the only one (except Brown's other books) worth listing as a book I've read here. I haven't read it cover-to-cover...moreThis is a great cookbook and really the only one (except Brown's other books) worth listing as a book I've read here. I haven't read it cover-to-cover. Like any other cooking or brewing book, there's not a lot of reason to read the parts that don't apply to what you're cooking. Despite this, I've read enough of the sections to get a good feel for it. If you enjoy the shows and find them helpful and entertaining, you'll find the books the same way. He focuses on teaching you how to cook more than just giving you recipes. The only thing to keep in mind is that many of the recipes actually differ from the recipes he presents on Good Eats. If you have I'm Just Here for the Food and I'm Just Here for More Food, and an internet connection for the good cooking websites for more recipes, there's no reason to own another cooking book (except maybe the kitchen gear book of Brown's).(less)
Until the end, this was going to be a three-star review, but the ending, which I can't actually share without spoiling it, makes up for an otherwise r...moreUntil the end, this was going to be a three-star review, but the ending, which I can't actually share without spoiling it, makes up for an otherwise relatively slow novel. As a tip for those who haven't read the book yet, I suggest paying close attention to the earlier chapters in the book and especially close attention when Pi or the author character discusses religion and the "better story." To me, the book is entirely about religion and belief and those chapters are the key to understanding the story, especially the ending.
I'd still really think this is more of a 3.5-star book instead of a true 4-star.(less)
Parke Godwin's specialty is the retelling of the classic legends. In Firelord he takes the legend of King Arthur and rewrites it in a way that fits th...moreParke Godwin's specialty is the retelling of the classic legends. In Firelord he takes the legend of King Arthur and rewrites it in a way that fits the likely historical era in which the real man who was probably the basis of the legend lived. It's not a history text, but entirely a fictional novel, but the book brings a historical realism to the story that really resonated with me. Beloved Exile follows Guinevere after Arthur's death and is set in the period that the Germanic tribes are slowly taking over from the Romanized Celts. The Tower of Beowulf is the same sort of retelling of the old Germanic saga.(less)
My favorite nonfiction book ever. Interesting, captivating, and very interesting take on a very important issue: Why are some cultures rich and powerf...moreMy favorite nonfiction book ever. Interesting, captivating, and very interesting take on a very important issue: Why are some cultures rich and powerful and others poor and weak. It's lengthy and gets a little repetitive towards the end, but if you consider yourself even slightly geeky or interested in the issue of why cultures didn't progress evenly, this is a great read.(less)
Before this book my only exposure with David Sedaris was from his readings on This American Life. I'm glad I was paying attention, because those readi...moreBefore this book my only exposure with David Sedaris was from his readings on This American Life. I'm glad I was paying attention, because those readings led me to this book and it was one of the more entertaining reads I've had in a while. Sedaris is a wonderful master of dry humor and the less embarrassing forms of wordplay. You do end up wondering just how much of the story is entirely true and how much is exaggerated or doctored for comedic and dramatic effect, but it's not like it really matters. Sedaris tells his life story through these essays for their entertainment value not because he's a public figure we want to know the truth about or because his life story is inspirational or educational. Actually, I think Sedaris might feign insult should we pretend there are any real life lessons to be learned from this book. He at least pretends to be far too shallow to have intended that.(less)
If you like David Sedaris, you will like this book as well, although it's perhaps not as funny as some of his other works. It does seems to show a mor...moreIf you like David Sedaris, you will like this book as well, although it's perhaps not as funny as some of his other works. It does seems to show a more human side to the author as he spends several essays talking about his various siblings and how his choice of career has affected them. Several of the pieces almost serve as apologies to those siblings. They still retain the oddball point of view that marks Sedaris' voice, but they show a greater depth of emotion than expected. He does verge on sappy at a couple of points but can never quite seem to get past his own sense of irony to ruin the book with excess sentimentality.(less)
The description at the top of this page is incorrect. The newer editions of Walk-On: Life from the End of the Bench have been retitled Teammates Matte...moreThe description at the top of this page is incorrect. The newer editions of Walk-On: Life from the End of the Bench have been retitled Teammates Matter. It actually has nothing to do with Jimmy Valvano or the Jimmy V Foundation. Valvano is only mentioned once in the entire book and then only in passing. This is actually an inspirational book based on the author's time as a walk on at Wake Forest.
The book isn't bad, but honestly it feels like after the first chapter or two, there's no real reason to keep reading. The message has been stated and everything after that point seems to just be more of the same.(less)
Honestly, I didn't finish this book. It offered no insight or argument that I already didn't know and understand. I'm also not sure how many people wo...moreHonestly, I didn't finish this book. It offered no insight or argument that I already didn't know and understand. I'm also not sure how many people would find this book interesting. It's arguments against Intelligent Design from a former creationist. Creationists won't care what the arguments are and will avoid this on principle. Those with scientific interest and any basic knowledge should already understand this stuff. I guess there may be a market of undecided, open minded readers who aren't scientifically knowledgable, but are interested. In that circumstance, this would be a very good read. It's a slim book with clear, well-stated arguments, but I seriously doubt there are many people who would care or be interested who don't already know this stuff.(less)
I love this author. He's one of the better character writers I know of. This also isn't traditional dwarves and elves fantasy in the lines of Tolkien,...moreI love this author. He's one of the better character writers I know of. This also isn't traditional dwarves and elves fantasy in the lines of Tolkien, which gets old in a hurry. In fact, if you're read The Lord of the Rings and Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series (which is the classical style fantasy without the nonhuman races) you've pretty much read all that needs to be read in the genre. De Lint is more contemporary fantasy where old world myths and legends are blended into real world settings.(less)
**spoiler alert** I kind of liked some of the premise here, but it's written like the author planned on taking it to Hollywood. It's a simplistic stor...more**spoiler alert** I kind of liked some of the premise here, but it's written like the author planned on taking it to Hollywood. It's a simplistic story, minimalist cast of characters, and lots of tension and interpersonal drama. Unfortunately, the main characters are unlikable, so you end up not really caring that they all die, except for poor Pablo who just tagged along for fun and doesn't even speak English or Spanish. I obviously don't end up rooting for the carnivorous plant as it has no human qualities and I get so annoyed with the whining, wimpy, and stereotypically sheltered/ignorant American college kids that make up the main characters that I actually ended up hoping they'd just die so I could stop reading about their whining.(less)