Tag: Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain: The Legacy of a Storyteller

  “Why do you write?” is a question frequently posed to writers. It’s a question I’ve often asked myself. The answer for me is simple. Why do I write? Because there are stories in me waiting for me to tell.            Storytelling isn’t just an art. It’s a way of connecting people, places, and ideas. When celebrity chef, travel documentarian, and author, Anthony Bourdain died earlier this month, he was most fondly described as a superb storyteller, but not only by his professional peers. While tributes poured in from fellow celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson, and Jamie Oliver to dignities like Barack Obama, the most revealing praise came from the ordinary people Bourdain liked to share his time with.                       Outside Les Halles, the French restaurant where Bourdain was once executive chef, notes were attached to the storefront, along with flowers and other gifts. Some notes were brief, written on tiny post-its. “You were loved. No reservations.” “Mr. Bourdain, you for made faraway places seem not so far away. Like home. Rest easy.” Many were written in foreign languages. Longer notes thanked Bourdain for being “an authentic and inspiring storyteller…reminding us to experience and savor life.” “Thank you for bringing a respectful view to the people of Palestine, Libya, Iran & more.” Some were as irreverent as Bourdain. “Dear Anthony, You were such a kickass mother****er.”              Bourdain was unpretentious and humble. “It would be an egregious mistake to ever refer to me in the same breath as most of the people I write about.” He was unabashedly passionate. “Your body is not a temple: it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”            He may have hinted that there can be a cost for being a storyteller. “As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”            Bourdain didn’t lecture. Writers understand that means he didn’t tell. He showed. By bringing us stories about the food, culture, and people from around the globe, he made his audience feel as if it had a seat at the table. He connected people, which is what a good storyteller does best.            Rest in peace, Anthony Bourdain. Your stories are your legacy and your gift. 

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Non-fiction anyone?

 Many who write fiction turn to non-fiction as resource and reference. Others read non-fiction while working on their own fiction. A palate cleanser? A way to focus on your own voice without being swayed into that of another author?  Both, probably. While at university I studied history along with architecture and maintain an interest in history and biography. A few books make their way from my husband’s nightstand to mine – he comes from a European perspective, heavily tinged with architecture. Some recent favorites: If Venice Dies, by Salvatore Settis. We have lived in Venice a few times and it remains one of our favorite cities. Settis delves into the history and future of the city, contextualizing both in terms of tourism, which has been a constant in la Serenissima’s evolution. Soviet Space Dogs, by Olesya Turkina. We always have pairs of Jack Russell Terriers. The boys are named for Pritzker prize winning architects (Alvaro and Rem so far) while the girls have Russian names (Sabatchka and Laika). This book was a gift from my nieces in honor of Laika, the first dog sent into space. Unfortunately, the ending is too sad so we’ve never read that far. But otherwise a lovely tribute to her sacrifice for science. At the Strangers’ Gate by Adam Gopnik. We had the great pleasure to hear Gopnik speak a few years ago. Most entertaining! My husband, in particular, enjoyed this book since he was also in New York City in the 1980s. Gopnik adds complexity to any story but his ability to insert his experiences into the issues of the city is remarkable.    I’ve had a food and restaurant obsession recently (technically related to book research) and have greatly enjoyed Sous Chef by Michael Gibney, anything and everything by Anthony Bourdain (starting with Kitchen Confidential). Add to that anything written by Ruth Reichl, Gourmet’s editor-in-chief and former restaurant critic for the New York Times. Also on the research front, I have enjoyed Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time, written by Dava Sobel. This slim volume lives up to the title in marvelous story-telling fashion. Next on my plate are a few biographies: Ron Chernow’s Hamilton and Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. What are your non-fiction favorites? 

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