Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Review of The Nasty Bits
It's been awhile since I reviewed a book; I have been reading (gasp) purchased books in the last week or two, since I had to buy my book club book this time around (it wasn't available at the library).
Mr. T and I are fans of No Reservations on the Travel Channel, and both of us really enjoyed Kitchen Confidential, so I was excited to read this one. And then I discovered...I didn't really like it.
That might be too harsh. I guess I just didn't like it as much as I thought. It really feels like the title: just bits that were gathered up and shoved into a book with some pretense at an overriding organization. It could also be called, "random stuff that doesn't really go together." I know this is somewhat typical for a book containing short non-fiction stories, but I think it's been done better, and I think Bourdain himself did it better in previous books. This one seems to contain pieces written after KC, right up to the beginning of his television shows, first on the Food Network and then on the Travel Channel.
I also found the voice in some of the stories grating. There's one story where he bemoans the Disney-fication of NYC, longing for the glory days of drugs, crime, and prostitution. This seemed like a desperate attempt to look cool and hip and tough. I was relieved when I got to the end and saw that Bourdain had commented on all the stories--most of his commentary completely jived with mine, and for that particular story, he admitted that he sounded like an ass. Phew.
The story I didn't really look forward to reading, which was the one random piece of fiction in the book, was actually my favorite thing. It didn't feel as forced as the other pieces, and I enjoyed it a lot.
So, this one was disappointing. I find that I am amused by the young bitter Bourdain, but on the whole I much prefer the older, more mellow, content Bourdain; he's not trying as hard.