Chef Anthony Bourdain was largely unknown before this book was published in 2000. This, his first memoir, became a surprise bestseller, and set its author on a course for stardom. It chronicles his professional and personal life, and describes the high-end kitchens where he cut his teeth as a world populated by “wacked-out moral degenerates, dope fiends, refugees, a thuggish assortment of drunks, sneak thieves, sluts, and psychopaths.”
From the official description: From Bourdain’s first oyster in the Gironde, to his lowly position as dishwasher in a honky tonk fish restaurant in Provincetown (where he witnesses for the first time the real delights of being a chef); from the kitchen of the Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center, to drug dealers in the east village, from Tokyo to Paris and back to New York again, Bourdain’s tales of the kitchen are as passionate as they are unpredictable. Kitchen Confidential will make your mouth water while your belly aches with laughter. You’ll beg the chef for more, please.
Kitchen Confidential is temporarily priced at $2.99 for Kindle. Not sure how long that’s going to be the case, so I’d recommend not waiting until tomorrow.
The author of this book was the guest on a recent episode of Marc Maron’s podcast, and I thought it was an odd choice. I still do, in fact. Maron generally interviews comedians, actors, and musicians. When he does have an author on as a guest, it’s usually a novelist. However, it turned out to be one of the best recent episodes of the show.
Sam Quinones is an investigative reporter, and Dreamland is the book he wrote about heroin, and how its use is now epidemic in America. He blames the pharmaceutical industry for aggressively peddling pain pills, the medical industry for choosing to treat symptoms instead of underlying problems (to save money, of course), and a group of people from a specific village in Mexico for marketing heroin in small cities “like pizza.”
It’s that last part that I found the most fascinating. Quinones claims that nearly everyone who lives in that Mexican village is involved, “including the mothers and daughters.” They move into a small U.S. city — like Huntington, WV, which is not far from where I grew up — and set up shop like Domino’s. They have a phone number you can call, and drivers who will deliver the drug straight to your door. It’s wild, and terrifying.
While I was listening to the interview, I went over to Amazon and added the book to my Wishlist. And today it’s $2.99. If you find the subject interesting, I don’t think you can go wrong with this one.
I’m super-excited about this one. It’s a serious biography of the great comedian, critically acclaimed, which has been on my Amazon Wishlist since before it was even published. Today it’s $1.99 for Kindle. Patience pays dividends once again!
Richard Pryor released an autobiography in 1995, and it’s undoubtedly entertaining. But… there’s some question about the truthfulness of it. Pryor told many contradictory stories about his early days, and who knows which versions he included in the book?
A biography like this one excites me more. Here’s part of a review of the book: “Pryor has had the good fortune to fall into the hands of a writer with the smarts to understand both his greatness and his madness. Becoming Richard Pryor is a first-rate biography.”
I have no idea how long the book is going to remain at the reduced price, so I recommend buying it today, before midnight, Amazon Western Time. I did. And now it’s going straight to the front of the reading queue.
This is my latest Kindle acquisition: book #617. To tell you the truth I don’t know a whole lot about it. However, I concluded that I might like it because of the following:
- Whenever I see a list of the funniest novels of the year, there’s almost always a Simon Rich entry. He must be doing something right.
- This one appears to be a cringey, uncomfortable school story, and I’m always a sucker for the cringey, uncomfortable school stories.
- The blurb at the top of the cover says “An enjoyable little dose of poisonous cynicism.” Yes! I’m in.
Plus, it didn’t hurt that the price is $2.99 for Kindle. I’m not sure if that’s the everyday price, or a temporary situation. But I snagged it. In fact, I snagged it for the second time. There’s a paperback version — with a different cover — kicking around here somewhere. I’m now re-buying books I already own, because I prefer reading on a Kindle.
You’ll notice that the novel has mixed reader reviews at Amazon. That would concern me, and probably dissuade me from buying it, if it were in a genre other than humor. You can always count on humorous fiction receiving too many negative reviews. I think it’s the people who are really good at math who have a problem with subtle comedy. It’s just a theory. Indeed, two of my favorite humor novels, A Confederacy of Dunces and The Dog of the South, receive an inordinate number of one-star reviews. How anyone could trash those true works o’ genius is a mystery to me. It’s gotta be the fucking mathematicians, right? I can think of no other explanation.
I believe everybody who’s ever worked in a record store has read Nick Hornby’s debut novel, High Fidelity. It’s a very funny book about a group of guys who, you know, work in a record store. They have a lot of pop culture knowledge, and strong opinions. They argue and bicker and make Top 5 lists, which they then argue and bicker about. The main character’s girlfriend has just left him, and it upsets him greatly that her new boyfriend has a subpar record collection.
Hornby’s second novel is About a Boy, and it concerns a perpetual adolescent (sensing a theme?) who lives in London, dates as many women as possible, and generally lives like an adrift 22 year old hipster, even though he’s now 36.
Then he starts seeing a woman with a troubled 12 year old son, and our hero finds himself in the improbable position of being a role model. He tries to help the kid grow up, even though he hasn’t fully grown up himself. It’s unclear who the Boy in the title is referencing. It could go either way.
This second book is also very funny, and charming as well. It was made into a successful movie, and later a TV series that I never saw. I’m fairly sure it’s Hornby’s biggest selling novel, and basically made him a literary star. I read it a long time ago, right after High Fidelity, but plan to revisit both books soon.
About a Boy is $1.99 for Kindle today.
Jenny Lawson has a website that’s not unlike my own West Virginia Surf Report. She writes about her life in a humorous way, and has a biting sense of humor that I appreciate. The big difference between her site and mine? Hers is about a million times more popular.
But that’s OK. She works harder, is probably funnier, and managed to strike a nerve with people. I applaud her achievements. I don’t really get jealous of other folks’ success, I just beat myself up for not getting there too. I repeat certain phrases like “You’re a walking, talking piece of shit. Why don’t you just throw yourself into a fucking canyon, loser?” Life-affirming mantras like that.
In any case, this is Jenny’s second book. Both are memoirs, and both are huge bestsellers. To be honest, I had a little trouble with the first one. I started to read it, and stopped. But I think the brain chemicals were just mixing in some unfortunate way that day; sometimes the chemicals are not my friend. People I know and admire assure me the book is both hilarious and great. It remains on my Revisit Soon list.
And the second book is temporarily $3.99 for Kindle. I’m not sure if it’s a one-day thing, or what. But I’ve never seen the price this low, so snag it if you’re so inclined. I was all over it like a cheetah on a birdwatcher.
This is my latest Kindle acquisition: book #615 on the device. Previously, it had been residing on my Amazon Wishlist for many months, because, I believe, I read an article that listed it as one of the funniest novels of 2015. Beyond that, I don’t know much about it.
It’s described as a Young Adult book, which is fine by me. At this point in our history, YA should not scare away any not-so-young adult readers. There’s a lot of greatness under that heading. Don’t let snobbery or prejudice block you from greatness.
Plus, there’s a School Library Journal review of the book on the Amazon page that suggests that some of the humor is insensitive. Yes! Insensitive and inappropriate humor is, needless to say, a big-time positive.
And there’s this blurb, which sealed the deal for me: “…reminiscent of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off if done by John Hughes with Jack Kerouac.”
But, the real reason I finally pulled the trigger on it was price, of course. All roads lead to cheapness. Yesterday, as I was scrolling through my outrageously bloated Wishlist, I noticed the price on the Kindle version had been reduced (temporarily, I’m sure) to $1.99. It’s still there, as I type.
And that’s the secret: do the research, try to identify all the good books, put them on your Wishlist, and wait for a temporary price-drop. It’s how a person ends up with 615 amazing books on their Kindle. Well, that and a light dusting of mental problems.
The hunt continues!
I discovered Marc Maron about five years ago, when I was trolling for new podcasts to add to my “work iPod.” Back then I listened for about 10 hours per day, five days per week, and was ripping through an enormous amount of material.
One of the first Maron podcasts I heard was his infamous encounter with Gallagher, which was episode 145. As I type this, he’s up to 673 episodes, and I’ve listened to them all. Except for one, which I turned off in disgust: his interview with the pretentious-cock lead singer of Radiohead. Oh my god!
In any case, I’ve become a Maron fan. He’s a longtime stand-up comic, and interviews “creatives” (comics, actors, writers, musicians) on his bi-weekly podcast. He also has a very funny situation comedy on IFC, that’s successfully worked its way into my bloodstream. I was just watching it last night, laughing my ass off.
And this morning I noticed his memoir is temporarily reduced to $1.99 for Kindle. I own it, of course, but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. I do not hesitate, however, recommending it. Snag the thing, before the price goes back to twelve bucks, or whatever. The man has had his share of adventures.
I’m not a huge fan of “oral histories.” I’ve certainly read some good ones, like the MTV book, but I generally prefer a more traditional approach.
However… this is about Monty Python, and the surviving members cooperate. So, it earned a place on my Amazon Wishlist. It feels like I know a lot about this stuff, and yet there’s much, much more I don’t know. Ya know?
A cousin introduced me to Monty Python, way back in 7th grade. It was impossibly silly and absurd, and sometimes there was nudity! I became fully-invested, as did many other people I knew. We’d never seen anything like it. At the time, comedy on American TV meant Alice or Maude. Monty Python felt like it was being beamed in from a distant, far-cooler planet.
This morning, while scrolling through the ol’ Wishlist, I noticed that Monty Python Speaks! is temporarily 99 cents for Kindle. Oh, hell yes. My cursor was a blur to the Buy Now button. And my massive reading backlog continues to grow. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I knew nothing about this book or its author, but it was recommended to me by a creepy Amazon algorithm that seems to know what I’m thinking, my moods, and all about that terrible thing in August of 1979 with the beanbag chair, etc.
I liked the cover, and the $1.99 price was right in my wheelhouse. But it was this customer review that sealed the deal for me:
This book was seriously hilarious. I hope they make it into a movie and somehow make the movie as good as the book. D.C. Trip is full of horrible teenage girls, underage drinking, accidental drug use, public bathroom BJs, many f-words, and all kinds of inappropriate behavior, which is part of what makes it so good. It made me wish I was a teenager again so I could get in the kind of trouble that makes a great story to tell the grandkids but doesn’t do any lasting damage.
Sounded like my kind of thing! And at two bucks… sign me up. I just started reading it last night, and was alone in my silent living room laughing my ass off. Like a mental patient. I’m only about 15% into it, but can already recommend this one. It’s well-written, hilarious, and kinda filthy. Perfect!