Four star review, originally posted here on December 28, 2018.
I’m surprised to be ranking this book so high. I’ll start by admitting that I’ve never really liked Anthony Bourdain (may he rest in peace). He always struck me as arrogant- pretentiously bragging about how unpretentious he is. Blargh. But I also haven’t followed him that closely, my feelings weren’t that strong, and plenty of people whose opinions I respect seem to love him. Plus I see this book as a modern staple. So I decided to give it, and Bourdain, a shot.
My opinion of Bourdain has not changed one iota. If anything, he just seems even more conceited and unlikable, to the point that the book made me straight up angry at times.
BUT… It was still a good book, despite of, or perhaps specifically because of, it’s unlikable narrator. Hearing about the seedy underbelly of the restaurant industry is legitimately entertaining and informative. Bourdain brings to life plenty of characters, himself included. The stories and insights were fresh and entertaining. And the fact that it made me feel by making me feel angry is the sign of an engaging read.