, Anthony Bourdain

This review is not what you may expect. Anthony Bourdain committed suicide at 61. Why?

Though I review the book, more than that, I criticize the man. Who am I to judge and what am I judging? 

My right to judge is that I am alive. I have suffered, experienced trauma and lived in turmoils but I am still here. This is not a comparison of lives, No one can say one life is worse than any other. Life is relative to each person. A slight malady to some may be a life and death issue to others. The final word may be that suicide is not an intellectual decision but rather an emotional one, reached not by logic but by feelings.


Anthony Bourdain, 61, died on June 8, 2018, in France, where he was filming an episode of his beloved, Emmy-winning CNN series “Parts Unknown.”

The Book
Superbly written, Bourdain grabs the reader from his opening line, “Don’t get me wrong” to his closing sentence, “But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”

Foodies who are well acquainted with Anthony Bourdain will love this book if they have not already read it. These readers will feel the heat of Bourdain’s kitchens, smell the smoke, feel the greasy atmosphere there and hear the clatter of the pots and pans and be surrounded by the cooks’ crude voluminous exchanges. You’re there in his kitchens, surrounded by all the above, page after page.

Everything is laid bare from the drugs to the booze, from the illegal immigrant workers to the ribald sexual encounters in his kitchen exposures. The book lays it out in a style of writing that is captivating, if not relentlessly engaging. Bourdain chops away at his story, dices his experiences and slices away all illusions of glamour and charm some may see in the restaurant business. He lays out in a wonderfully staccato-paced description that entertains as much as it reveals.

Foodies will idolize Bourdain.

Non-foodies will find the book just as engaging. The glamour of the restaurant industry is ripped away exposing a raw, drug-addled, alcohol-abusive cast of characters who are more captivating than from Hollywood. The stories are so extreme, that the reader will be hard-pressed to believe them. But the extensive detail seems to reinforce the authenticity of the stories. I believe it all.

The account of his life is overwhelming. It is hard to believe. What Bourdain has inhaled, injected, consumed and ingested seems unbelievable. However, credibility is possible when one reads other books by chefs and world-known cooks. Drugs, booze, broads and beef are the order of the day, every day and readers who live more ‘normal’ lives, more conservative ones will find the revelations incredible. However, when repeated over and over by so many leaders of the industry, there has to be a lot of veracity in what is being said.

An excellent read.

A personal comment
Bourdain killed himself. What is overwhelming about that is that the man seemed to have had it all when he took his own life at 61, fame, glory, money, all the trappings of being successful in his chosen career. The problem is that we, the masses, the common public cannot rationalize or comprehend the conditions that would drive a person to take their own life.

What may be so very troubling about suicide is the why?

Many acclaimed geniuses and renowned artists took their own lives, including Van Gogh, John Godward, Henry Goetz, Margot Kidder, Tony Scott, Hunter S. Thompson, Robin Williams, David Carradine, Karen Carpenter, sadly the list seems to go on and on.

Some have left truncated notes, none a clear, concise explanation of their mental/emotional state at the time of their worst trauma and turmoil. What were they thinking at the time of the mortal decision? Likely so emotionally distraught, they could not verbalize their mentality.

It is extremely troubling to understand the world in which these people were living in their final days and hours. At what point does an intelligent thinking human being believe that life is hopeless? That there is no value in tomorrow? That there is nothing to gain in living another day? These are troubling questions with no answers.

It may be an afterthought or hindsight to have the arrogance to attempt an explanation as to why these people chose the path they did, a dead end. Bourdain’s writing may offer some clues, but it may be arrogant to believe the answers are clear and evident. Bourdain’s writing is a whir, an endless buzz of extremes. He seems to have been living a life on the edge of mortality every day, pushing his mortal envelope further and further, perhaps exploring his limits, testing his mortal waters. But why? What was he discovering? What was his mental conclusion? His emotional final thoughts? What led him to believe ‘there was no tomorrow?’

For the common person, the ‘normal’ day-to-day surviving person, the questions these people were thinking are endless but we, the conservative majority, cannot feel what these geniuses were feeling. Maybe worse, we cannot empathize with them. Our way of thinking, even in the nadir of gloom and doom, holds that there must be hope, hope for recovery, redemption, or ultimate salvation. We will live and recover. They did not see it that way.

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