Top critical review
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repetitious, uninteresting, arrogant, unpleasant
on June 5, 2001
This book had gotten good press and I am interested in the subject, but I had seen the author on television and didn't like him much, so I waited for the paperback. I'm really glad I didn't buy the hardcover. What a disappointment! And for those reviewers who say anyone who doesn't like the book is ignorant of the restaurant business -- No, thank you very much for telling me what I know and think (and what would I like for breakfast today, hmm?) -- perhaps we JUST DON'T LIKE THE BOOK!
The stories and language are self-consciously profane, and the writing is generally without merit. The author is by turns arrogant and whining. The author despises his customers, calling them (at best) rubes, while all of his employers are imbeciles and all of his employees and co-workers are criminals, drug addicts and degenerates. Mr. Bourdain is a talented writer. He can make characters come to life. But he is a remarkably unsympathetic narrator, and a disorganized thinker: the chapters jump from topic to topic sometimes without any reasoning at all; in the beginning the author tells us that no one should enter the restaurant business, but then he gives a lot of advice on how to enter the restaurant business; he says that everyone in the restaurant business is a loser of one kind or another, but then has a chapter about a couple of exceptionally good chefs. There is an interesting chapter at the end about a trip the author took to Japan, and a few good pages about tools and ingredients a serious amateur chef might want, but these should have been articles, not a book. There is little organization and no cohesion, and the book could have used a good editor. *That* is why I do not like this book. I wanted to like the book. I just didn't.
After I read a good book, I keep it; after I read a mediocre book, I give it away. This book is going in the trash.