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Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook (P.S.) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 288 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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This book had some very interesting parts, but it doesn't follow a storyline. Once you read the book you realize how accurate the title is. It really is just a series of chapters of Tony's opinions things/people he loves and hates in the food industry.
I'm glad I read the book and wouldn't necessarily discourage anyone from reading the book so long as you know what it is going in. His style of writing still shines.
My favorite chapters were the early ones ... especially his chapter about an ex-girlfriend who was rich, spoiled and sociopathic ... which I've experienced more times than I'd care to. I felt that some of the chapters rambled a bit, especially the two chapter long take on Momofuku and it's tempermental chef owner. I honestly had to skip the rest of the chapter several pages into it because it was just going nowhere and was pretty much a flowery tribute that Marc Anthony would have called 'over the top'.
I do love Tony's use of prose and cursing ... it makes the book entertaining and after a while the curmodgeon thing starts to get grating and it's almost like Tony reads your mind and switches to humble mode for a page or two. This is a guy who plays the whole 'I can't believe I am famous!' card and means it ... but at the same time, he knows how amazing his life turned out to be and how jealous most of the readers are about his many travels, riches and fame.
I see this book not as a literary work of art but more of a combination of a way to pad the bank account and get some free stream of conscious therapy by Tony. This book skips around like a .22 caliber bullet at close range. It seems like there is no real organization ... a few funny personal stories, followed by a list of Tony's most influential restaurantaurs, a rehash of Kitchen Confidentail and then a detailed self personality analysis. Seems like the type of book that someone bangs out in a week because the advance has already been spent and the deadline is getting closer. Not to say that each word isn't agonized over because it is clear that Tony is a wordsmith of the utmost magnitude. But don't expect more than it is, which is stream of consciousness Hunter S. Thompson style gonzo/rebel musings.
I find his books to be very honest and open, and his tv shows in general are excellent, but don't always have the same opportunity to present how he really feels. Which in my mind is fine - tv is a different medium and he likely has much different expectations put on him by the network.
Personally, I don't think he really tries to cultivate any particular image and I think he brings a tremendous amount of insight, sensitivity, empathy and eagerness to explore and understand other cultures in a genuine way, not just what will look good for the cameras (or to the reader, as it were).
I think he's an excellent writer, as well. He's not afraid to wax poetic, go into lyrical prose to describe something of beauty, or to call himself on his own BS.
This book is the spiritual successor to Kitchen Confidential (one of my favorite books of all time). It is a series of semi-unrelated essays on various topics - one of which is the best description/justification/explanation of "selling out" I've ever seen. (He says he arrived at this conclusion after discussing the topic with Emeril - one of his former targets of scorn). You get insights into the food industry, great meals he's had, life at The Food Network (where his original "A Cook's Tour" was shown), cooking as a profession, food writers, and fine dining in general, among other things.
If you don't like Bourdain, this won't change your mind about anything, most likely. If you already like him, then this is just more of his view on things, and you'll probably enjoy it.
He's crass and profane, so be aware that this is him, uncensored. (Just in case you haven't read his books before). To me this is a better book than The Nasty Bits, which I liked just fine, but it felt more disjointed, being a collection of previously published essays - at least I think they were all previously published.
As I said, I really enjoy AB's writing. Though he can be vulgur, sure, he is also capable of elegant descriptive prose and he's particularly good at delving into topics beyond surface expectations or preconceptions. What I also like about this book is that AB reassesses his past, his prior views on various things, Kitchen Confidential, his career and his previously-stated views on others. He's not trying to live up to an image at this point and has come to realize that there are more important things in life. He also repeatedly states how lucky he is and how blessed his life has been, considering the dark corners he'd previously inhabited.
Recommended highly. I can't wait for the next one.