Saturday, December 29, 2018

Kitchen Confidential

I've been doing something I'd never done before: listening to an audiobook. In this case, that book was Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain—the book that put Bourdain on the map. Fortunately for us Bourdain fans, the book was read aloud by the man himself. It's a nearly seven-hour, twenty-three-minute ride, and I listened to it in chapter-long chunks over the course of a week, but I must say: I can now understand why people listen to podcasts. I'm not really a fan of podcasts and audiobooks, but that could simply be because I haven't heard the right voice or voices. In life, Bourdain was a natural raconteur, but not the annoying kind who hijacks conversations and traps everyone with a cheerful-yet-interminable narrative about something of no consequence. As someone whose career overlapped in many ways with that of journalists, Bourdain was also an excellent listener; he would only hold forth at length if you, the interlocutor, had ceded the floor to him. And that's what you do when listening to an audiobook: you yield to the raconteur. Although it's obvious that Bourdain, in this audiobook, is reading prose and not speaking naturally (the man wasn't known as an actor), the narrative takes on a soothing flow, and the words are structured in such a way as to evoke, quite clearly, the rough life of a typical professional cook who eventually becomes a chef.

I have no idea how long the following audio/video will remain on YouTube; uploading the entire book is doubtless a copyright violation, but I'm thankful that I came across this audiobook and listened to it. I can't say that it changed my life or anything so deep, but it did give me a bit more insight into Bourdain himself. I'm embedding the audiobook here; if YouTube does yank this entry, you'll be able to see that right away, here on my blog:

More than two-thirds of the way through the book is a passage about a restaurant worker who got fired, then hanged himself. This part was a bit eerie, given that Bourdain eventually hanged himself as well. But that bit of creepiness aside, Kitchen Confidential is a show-don't-tell tome full of life-wisdom for everyone, no matter that person's actual profession or vocation. Give it a listen if you have the time to do so.

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