“For a moment, or a second, the pinched expressions of the cynical, world-weary, throat-cutting, miserable bastards we’ve all had to become disappears, when we’re confronted with something as simple as a plate of food.”
Anthony Bourdain, from his classic culinary memoir, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.

Our Top Non-Fiction Bestsellers of 2018

  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
  • Educated by Tara Westover
  • 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson
  • Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
  • Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
  • Forgiveness by Mark Sakamoto
  • The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King
  • The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama
  • A Matter of Confidence by Rob Shaw and Richard Zussman

verytrulyviolet  asked:

Hi!! I just wanted to see if you have any received for some of your favorite books? You have such a wonderful writing style and I assume it must come in some small part from the influence of great works. 😊 (doing this publicly so more can benefit from your awesomeness)

*cracks knuckles* Okay, girl. You know this was a big-ass deal for me. So time to throw some books at you. I kind of categorised them into how (I think) they’ve influenced my writing style. I hope that helps!

Heavy-handed prose, time-fractured narratives:

  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. The first book that I read that made me think, geez, how long did she take to write this? Every freaking sentence is PACKED.WITH.MEANING.
  • Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel. Sequel to Wolf Hall, both are about Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s Master Secretary. It is muscular, evocative, spare prose. Just blindingly brilliant. (Avoid if you don’t care much about the Tudors.)

World-building, setting and aesthetic:

  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Actually just anything by Neil Gaiman. But this particular book is any mythology-obsessed kid’s DREAM, as well as a powerful reflection on America.
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Listen. Nothing rivals the incredible world of Classics and college created by Tartt here. One of the reasons why it remains one of the most moodboarded novels here on Tumblr.
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Did the story live up to the promise of the incredible world of Cirque des Reves? I don’t think so. But the universe that’s been crafted here is pure opulence.
  • Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler. Anyone who writes a New York restaurant AU ought to read this. It’s a dark, sexy mess but also just so insightful and cutting and immersive.

On love and relationships:

  • High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. You wanna know what a relationship looks like from a guy’s perspective? Read this. It’s been described as the guy version of Bridget Jones’ Diary.
  • The Lovers’ Dictionary by David Levithan. Such a clever idea - a love story organised into dictionary entries (which inspired “the vocabulary of us”!). Also a brilliant Twitter account!
  • Essays on Love/The Course of Love by Alain de Botton. A philosopher reflects on love. Heavy, a little full-on, but worth it for the insight.
  • Summer Skin by Kristy Eagar. A brilliant Australian novel. Do you want the sexiest, ballsiest feminist romance you’ve ever read in your life? Pick this up. 

Real stories:

  • Mo’ Meta Blues by ?uestlove. One for the music nerds. Do you want random Prince stories peppered with a thorough history of hip-hop? This is for you.
  • Listen to the Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui. A loving, tender but also hilarious memoir about the author’s mother. I’m constantly yelling at people to read more Lainey Gossip - this is her! And she’s brilliant!
  • Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. So much more painful now that he’s gone, but still so brilliant and so fresh. The passion leaps off the page.

Just, really good:

  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. A complicated coming-to-America story, from the perspective of a Nigerian woman.
  • All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I know. I know. There’s so many WW2 novels in this world. But this one is specifically heartbreaking.
  • The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden. HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO YELL AT EVERYONE TO READ THIS. PLEASE.
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Oh, my god. This. This is the Enemies-To-Lovers trope perfected, except it also has a strong feminist undercurrent and a kickass friendship and a bumbling but brilliant heroine. 

And just in case you’d like to learn how to write smut well:

  • The Boss by Abigail Barnette. Are you reading Fifty Shades to try and gain an insight into the Dom/Sub dynamic? Put that shit down and read this instead. Ho.Lee.Crap. 

The memorial outside of Anthony Bourdain’s old restaurant Brasserie Les Halles. 

A couple excerpts in no particular order:

  • “I work in food because of you. Sometimes I think I live in New York because of you”
  • “Burgers on brioche buns totally suck! Thank you!”
  • “Anthony, thanks for showing & visiting Armenia on Parts Unknown - letting the world know about the Armenian Genocide”
  • “You will be missed- A vegan”
  • “You’ve left an impression on me and many men… and for a man, esp. a white man, exceptional and graceful in all your interactions with people”
  • “When I was 14 I thought I was going to be a journalist or a writer, then I was given a copy of Kitchen Confidential. It changed my life. 20 years later I’m a CHEF because of YOU.”
  • “People say you should never meet you heroes: the fear of rejection, the fear of being let down, fear that they will not live up to your super high expectations. I mean that’s what makes them your heroes right? … I met chef twice… he looked over, tipped his glass at me and continued on, we drank in silence but i was never more comfortable ”
  • “ I can’t believe its not butter… I fucking can.”- I worked for him, best soul in food
  • “you made me COOK… and I’m a single New Yorker”
  • “I am a bubbly, happy vegetarian you would have hated me. But I loved you like we all did. You saw the world with compassion masked in distain” 
I appreciate people who show up every day and do the best they can, in spite of borderline personalities, substance abuse problems and antisocial tendencies; and I am often inclined to give them every opportunity to change their trajectories, to help them to arrive at a different outcome than the predictable one when they begin visibly to unravel. But once gone - quit, fired or dead - I move on to the next problem. There always is one.
—  Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential
Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.
—  Anthony Bourdain, from  Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
“I don’t wanna be a punk anymore. I wanna be a rude boy like my dad.”**

Unfortunately, no one noticed. Because chefs shared the same hours and many of the same proclivities, my friends and I frequently found ourselves moving in the same circles as our heroes. Which is to say,many of us were doing heroin. Since most of our favorite musicians had no money, we fed them for free in our restaurants in exchange for tickets. We copped from the same dealers and nodded out in the same after-hours clubs. There was a delightful sense of urgency to it all, as in: “Enjoy your favorite bands now. Before they die.” Few thought it would last. And that’s pretty much how it played out. We had fun for a while, then we all ended up dead or in a methadone program. There was no “movement” — all these artists really had in common was too little money, a general aspiration to say something, and a place they could all hang out. You could hardly find two bands more different in style and content than Talking Heads and the Ramones. While conversations ranged from the intellectual to the proudly inarticulate, there was indeed common agreement on one idea: Things were pretty much fucked.

Really, I want to remember two things about Tony Bourdain. And I’ll freely admit that one of them is as much about me as him. Well, sort of. Or maybe it’s about all of us.

The first is what it meant to be around when Kitchen Confidential was published in 2000. Now I’ve always been interested in food, and I’ve always been interested in how things work. So that look behind the curtain into how restaurants work was gold. But it was the punk ethos of the whole thing that got me. I don’t think the man ever stopped being a punk, even with his CNN show and other trappings of the establishment. It has, and will always, remind me of me as a middle class kid from the suburbs, preppy on the outside, punk on the inside.

The second is a gustatory memory. In the early 2000’s, Some Assembly Required paid off a bet buying me dinner at Les Halles on John Street. Our wives joined us. As a food guy, I’d read about, and then read, Kitchen Confidential, and I wanted to go do The Thing. It was a good meal and a fine night. And now I’m glad I have the memory. Arguably everything that’s happened in American celebrity food culture in the last 18 years started with Bourdain-ian erudite irreverence. I’m not sure it had to end with folks having Vegas locations of their restaurants, but that’s a story for another time.

This moment in the life of our nation came and went. But at least we can remember that, too.


I don’t want to demean his struggles by saying it’s a shame, but his loss will certainly be felt by many different kinds of people in many places. 

Repose en paix.

** Still my favorite quote from Sid and Nancy, all these years later.

Writing made Anthony Bourdain, who would have turned 63 today, famous in a way his cooking never could. His food was always fine, culminating in serviceable steaks sauced correctly, but his prose was jolting. On the page, he was wry, confessional and self-effacing. He exposed restaurants as gritty and flawed while never relinquishing their romance. On Bourdain’s birthday, revisit our 2018 profile (and one of the late writer and chef’s final interviews), celebrating his globalist mission.