ATTACKED BY NINJAS!

Okay, not really.  That would be a good story though, huh?

This time, we’re going foodie in a double update!

nastybitsus_150dpi200x300pxl Anthony Bourdain.  The name conjures images of a lanky, chain smoking swearing man enjoying a dish of something that you and I would probably not eat on a bet.  And yet it’s cuisine and he loves it and hey, how can you argue anyway?  Well, he’s back with another book – this time a collection of short stories and essays about everything ranging from how his show is shot to why we should all be nicer to the waiters.   And sometimes, why we should just cook at home.

Since there’s really no “story” here, it’s sort of hard to review this book.  I like Bourdain’s ramblings – he seems like an interesting guy with a lot of insight.  I like how he’s gritty and blunt and seemingly honest with his opinions… but he sort of seems like someone that might knife you if you make him mad.  He probably wouldn’t kill you, but you’d have a really cool scar.  Which might be kind of sweet in itself.  There’s probably a Facebook group for people who have been knifed by Anthony Bourdain.

Anyway, this is another fun one to read if you’re looking for something that you can pick up and put down without losing the narrative (one reason I like these short story/essay compilations).   He never fails to make me want to cook and stay far far away from a professional kitchen.

*****

downandout Part autobiographical, part fiction, Down and Out in Paris and London is George Orwell’s first novel.  It’s a gritty account of poverty and trying to get by in two of the largest cities in the world.  Along the way, he finds himself working in the kitchens of Hotel X, slogging his way through in order to just keep afloat.   Later in London, he finds himself maneuvering through the homeless and the “charitable” shelter systems in an attempt to find his way out from poverty.

*****

I don’t think I want to be poor. I mean, not in the “what can I hock today for some bread” kind of poor, and that’s the kind of poor that this talks about.  It’s the kind of poor where you have to sneak your clothes out of the building you’re living in so that your landlord doesn’t notice and want the rent.  It’s the kind of poor where you sleep in barracks or in shelters that make you listen to a sermon before giving you some bread.  That’s a kind of poor that nobody should have to live.

While this book is technically fiction, it’s commonly known that it’s very autobiographical and from the way it’s written you can tell that these things HAPPENED to Orwell.  There’s a sense of absurd realism that rings true as you read along and you can almost start to see where his ideas about the class system and society (which are so pointedly lampooned in Animal Farm) come from.

I picked this up (and am including it in this post) because it was a book that Anthony Bourdain recommended.  I wouldn’t say that this is REALLY a book about the restaurant industry although it’s a focus of the Paris portion of the story, so if you’re reading it for that you will probably be sort of disappointed.  Those portions are written with the same grittiness as Bourdain’s writing, so you know they are probably fairly accurate, but this book is more than that.  It’s about struggle and despondency and just being part of a marginalized population.  Worth the read – it’s not a long book – and it’s now public domain so you can go to Google books or other sites and read it online for free.  And we like free.

The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones by Anthony Bourdain, 288 pages

Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell, 213 pages

Advertisements
Published in: on April 6, 2009 at 9:02 am  Comments (7)  
Tags: , , ,

Outliers

outliers Outlier:  (n) 1) something that is situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body   2)  a statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others of the sample

It’s an age old question – what makes successful people successful?  I mean, REALLY successful.  Top of the game successful.  Bill Gates successful.  Is it hard work and smarts?  Or is there something more than that?  What factors go into making someone an outlier?

*****

Again, another short introduction to the book for a couple of reasons. First, if I just tell you what Malcolm Gladwell says, then you won’t have any reason to read the book and second, it’s a short book on one subject and that’s all there really is to say.

For the record, I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile.  I read Blink back when it came out and thought that it was pretty impressive for pointing out things that we probably already know.  So I guess I wanted to see what I should have already known about success.  Gladwell is great at pointing out things that make complete sense.  I mean, nobody really thinks that “self made men” really did it all on their own, and in this book he shows us some of the underlying reasons that people may be successful.

This isn’t a blueprint to success… not unless you have a time machine or something.  But I do think that those of you with kids should read it, especially if they are young.  And I think there is a lesson for us old people to take from it as well.  Which I won’t tell you.  Because I didn’t write the book, Gladwell did.

At times the book seems a bit repetitive.  He writes very conversationally and sometimes it sort of feels like you’ve heard the story before.  It’s a good point to make, though, that you haven’t – it’s just that once he pulls back the curtain you’ve lost that sense of “OH!”.   Still, you sort of get the feeling that the book could have been a bit shorter, or he could have done something more with the subject.

While I liked Blink more, this was a good one.  I hear The Tipping Point is also good, maybe I’ll see if I can find it used somewhere.  Oh, and Roz, you can borrow this one first.  🙂

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, 299 pages (and yes, I actually did read all the notes  :P)

Published in: on February 2, 2009 at 9:30 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: