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Gone Bamboo Paperback – September 16, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

For his second course, Bourdain, novelist (Bone in the Throat, 1995) and chef (at Sullivan's, in Manhattan), dishes up a sorry, soggy mess of a stew in which a good-hearted hit man finds himself on the spot with both mob chieftains and law-enforcement agencies. Hired by an ambitious cross-dressing mafioso named Pazz Calabrese to eliminate his two immediate superiors, Henry Denard dispatches one but only wounds the other, D'Andrea (Donnie Wicks) Balistierian aging capo di tutti capi in New York. After returning to Saint Martin, the idyllic West Indian haven he calls home, the hired gun (a decorated Vietnam vet who went on to work for the CIA) learns his wounded target has turned informant and will testify against former partners in crime. What's more, an accommodating interpretation of the Witness Protection Act allows Donnie Wicks (and a small army of US marshals) to take up residence on Saint Martin. Concerned that he and his hardcase wife Frances may have to find another place to live, Henry talks his way inside the former don's compound for a meet. Not to worry, the elderly outlaw has the nothing-personal aspect of gangdom's business down pat, and he soon takes a shine to the professional killer as well as to his lovely, lethal lady. In the meantime, the expatriate godfather's former underlings mount a deadly campaign to silence him. In the wake of a furious assault on his island home (which costs six feds and a like number of Dominican nationals their lives), Donnie Wicks (now under the protection of venal French officials) is reported dead. As a favor to the American authorities cheated of a show trial, Henry heads north to waste the kinky Calabrese and his top lieutenants with a light anti-tank weapon on a New Jersey construction site. At the close, he's drinking and living it up with Frances and Donnie Wicks at his Caribbean hideaway. In the parlance of cuisine: tripe. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Bourdain establishes himself as a new master of the wiseass crime comedy." -- Publishers Weekly

"Bourdain serves up a delectable concoction sure to appeal..." -- Denver Post

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; Trade Paperback Edition edition (September 16, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582341036
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582341033
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chef, author, and raconteur Anthony Bourdain is best known for traveling the globe on his stomach, daringly consuming some of the world's most exotic dishes on his hit TV shows Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and The Layover. Somewhat notoriously, he has established himself as a professional gadfly, bête noir, advocate, social critic, and pork enthusiast, recognized for his caustic sense of humor worldwide. He is as unsparing of those things he hates, as he is evangelical about his passions.

The "chef-at-large" at New York's famed Brasserie Les Halles, Bourdain is the author of the bestselling Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, a candid, hysterical, and sometimes shocking portrait of life in restaurant kitchens that has been translated into more than 28 languages - as well as the travel journal, A Cook's Tour, 3 crime novels, a cookbook, a biography of Typhoid Mary, the bestselling graphic novel Get JIRO!, and others.

His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Times of London, Bon Appetit, Gourmet and many other publications. He has shared his insights about team building and crisis management with the Harvard Business Review. He has been profiled by CBS Sunday Morning and Nightline, and has been a guest on The Late Show with David Letterman, Morning Joe, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Daily Show, Charlie Rose, The Colbert Report, and Real Time with Bill Maher.

Bourdain joined the writing staff of HBO's Treme in 2011, contributing to the popular drama's restaurant storylines. He recently launched his own publishing line with Ecco, Anthony Bourdain Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. His first titles will be released in early 2013.

No Reservations, widely popular all over the world, has won two Emmy Awards, with several other nominations. 2013 will see the premiere of two new television shows hosted by Bourdain: The Taste, a cooking competition series for ABC with Nigella Lawson, and a travel docu-series for CNN.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Jason Birkby on March 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
Maybe three stars is a little low. However in rating a book by an author whose previous work was stellar you can't help but be biased. "Gone Bamboo" is an above average novel with strange characters, a good storyline and some great action. However Bourdain gets away from what made his first book so good. The gangster feel is not as pronounced in this book and the restaurant setting is nonexistent.
"Gone Bamboo" is about semi retired hit man Henry Denard and his wife Frances. In the begining Henry is hired for one last hit on a mob boss Charlie Wagons. After botching the job Henry and Frances are hiding out on a tropical island. When who moves in next door Charlie Wagons himself, also hiding from the mob in the witness protection program. Henry know the mafia will come looking for Charlie and realizes that he may be found too. Henry befriends the ex-mobster and when the time comes for conflict the action really gets jumping.
The major fault of this novel is that it is hard to like Henry or Frances. They are lazy,drug users, which when the actions starts makes it hard to believe their reactions. If you consider reading this book, I strongly suggest you read "Bone in the Throat" first. There are about a half dozen characters who cross over in this book including Tommy Pagano the main character from "Bone In the Throat".
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Rovai on October 1, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'll move to New York and eat at Les Halles twice a week. Mid-week, of course.
I loved "Bone in the Throat," and was delighted to find major characters re-appearing in "Gone Bamboo." I read it in an afternoon, and heck! I didn't think it was too hardboiled. In fact,I did cry in a couple of places. Like Elmore Leonard, Bourdain knows how to write dialogue. He also knows how to create characters, and write a pageturning plot. The sense of place, in this case St. Martin, is done so well that I could feel the sand between my toes, smell the barbecue shacks and want to run to the fidge hoping to find a bottle of Red Stripe.
Bourdain has a nice touch especially with creating strong female characters. Frances, the female protagonist, is now my idol and role model.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A rather disappointing followup to "Bone in the Throat," this mob caper never reaches the breezy good humor of the Bourdain's debut. There are some decently interesting characters (a crossdressing mobster and a legendary ancient French commando being two), and some offbeat happenings, but the climax is wholly unsatisfying (at least to me). One redeeming aspect is that Bourdain doesn't shy away from killing some of the characters you least suspect will die. Definitely read "Bone in the Throat," before this, as some of characters overlap, and this comes second chronologically.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Thomas N. Gellert on January 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
Looking for a good escape while sunning on the beach? Here it is in the guise of cooking guru Anthony Bourdain's novel of a transvestite mafia boss - husband and wife CIA hitmen - seedy St. Maarten - unsuspecting chef and wife - and an ex-mafia boss with a colostomy bag. Bourdain has cooked up a trash-fest of characters and locales that will keep you amusingly occupied for a day or so of fun reading. While somewhat predictable and definitely filled with Bourdain's unique sense of plot development, this was a very easy read. Character development is mostly good although there are some characters who Bourdain develops nicely and then disposes of ... manipulation of the cruelest sort.
Those foodies out there hoping for the cooking overtones of Bone in the Throat will be somewhat disappointed (only a few forays into Bourdain's cooking descriptions). Bourdain does do a nice job of setting the scene in St. Maarten though.
The ending leaves one hanging to a certain extent ... perhaps there will be a sequel. Being a fan of Bourdain's writing in Kitchen Confidential, A Cook's Tour, Bone in the Throat and Gone Bamboo one can only hope that he continues to explore the seedy underbelly of life more in future fiction. Have fun.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 11, 1998
Format: Hardcover
While initially disappointed that "Bamboo" didn't feature the kind of food/chef/NYC atmosphere of his first book; I was knocked out cold by Bourdain's usage of street lingo,various American dialects, and cop-speak in the best Elmore Leonard tradition. Sprinled liberally with hip humour and pop culture it was a great read that I'd love to see in film...and I've got a crush a mile long for the protagonist's lethal wife. What a character!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Laughing Wolf on April 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
Tony's first novel "Bone in the Throat" left us in stiches with laughter. Much of that humor were the situations those characters got themselves into. In Gone Bamboo, the humor was mostly the off-beat characters themselves.

Although both formulas worked, I liked the first one better but both are five star reads. As far as substance, "Bone" gets 5 stars and "Bamboo" gets 4 but I give "Bamboo" an extra star for the risks involved by the author in what could have been a sophmore jinx.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Derrick Peterman on October 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
Bordain is always appealing to carnal delights in one way or another. This is not some mind expanding book, so those seeking great truths or want noble characters ought to look elsewhere. While I found the plot of the story to be nothing very special, the unique characters are what make the story memorable.
The main characters, Henry and Frances, a couple that live in St. Martin, spend most of the time getting drunk, smoking dope, passing out, hanging around the beach, and fornicating in unusual places. When Henry isn't engaging in these activities with Frances, he's a hit man. Hardly the usual sympathetic characters one usually roots for, but in the world created in this book, that's exactly what I found myself doing.
I think Bordain uses a skillful touch. Any book with heavy set, cross-dressing mob boss could easily drown in the absurdity of such a character, but it doesn't here. The envelope is pushed, but the characters never seem to go over the top. Other characters are more convential, but I still found them unique. And we understand the motivations of each character without going into deep, heavy handed explanations into human experience.
This isn't compelling, page turning stuff, but has a breezy pace like a pleasant day at the beach. Before I knew it, I'd knocked off 80-100 pages at a sitting.
For those not particularly into mob stories, smart-aleck story telling, or characters with loose morals, try something else. For the rest of us, time well spent.
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