The deadline for last week’s edition of True Story came too early for me to include the sad news that author, tv host, and enthusiast Anthony Bourdain died by suicide last week at the age of 61.
For our purposes, Bourdain was the author of more than a dozen books connected in some way to the world of food, eight of them nonfiction. Not sure where to start? Esquire suggests six to get you started, including the two that I think are his most recognized – Kitchen Confidential and Medium Raw. The New York Times has also collected some of his best work across genres and mediums, all worth reading, watching, or listening.
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When detective Ron Stallworth, the first black detective in the history of the Colorado Springs Police Department, comes across a classified ad in the local paper asking for all those interested in joining the Ku Klux Klan to contact a P.O. box, Detective Stallworth does his job and responds with interest, using his real name while posing as a white man. He figures he’ll receive a few brochures in the mail, maybe even a magazine, and learn more about a growing terrorist threat in his community.
A few weeks later the office phone rings, and the caller asks Ron a question he thought he’d never have to answer, “Would you like to join our cause?” This is 1978, and the KKK is on the rise in the United States. Ron answers the caller’s question that night with a yes, launching what is surely one of the most audacious, and incredible undercover investigations in history.
At Book Riot, Erica Harlitz-Kern wrote about Bourdain’s trip to the Yangambi Research Library on the Congo River during an episode of his CNN show, Parts Unknown. It’s a fascinating, book-ish story. After a fan petition, Netflix agreed to continue streaming the show beyond June 16, when it was slated to be taken down from the service.
Bourdain’s editor, Daniel Halpern, said Bourdain was working on a collection of essays that he planned to deliver at the end of the summer. Halpern told Vulture that he thought the collection was “going to be much more personal. I think he planned to talk about traveling more, what it’s like to be on the road, having a family.” It’s not clear what will happen with that work.
Beyond being a writer, Bourdain also helped other writers get published through his imprint, Anthony Bourdain Books, which was founded in 2011. I particularly love that he published a collection of columns by Marilyn Haggerty, an 88-year-old food critic who went viral in 2012 thanks to her review of a local Olive Garden. While his travels and writing took him around the world, his embrace of a collection like that shows an appreciation for local foods and customs in every community. That sense of curiosity, openness, and appreciation for other people will be so deeply missed.
In Other News…
Daniel Radcliffe is set to star in a Broadway adaptation of The Lifespan of a Fact, an adaptation of a book that chronicles the seven year relationship between a journalist and a fact-checker working on a single magazine story. The book includes the text of the article, along with the red-line comments from the fact checker. I’m not entirely sure how it will be made into a play, but I am very curious!
Journalist Michael Wolff has signed on to write a sequel to his best-selling book about the Trump White House, Fire and Fury. According to Axios, Wolff himself is unclear about what a sequel might be – he’s lost the element of surprise, and many of his sources – but I guess he’s going to try.
Hugh Grant is returning to TV and will star in a three-part adaptation of A Very English Scandal, a drama that “details the brief homosexual affair between British politician Jeremy Thorpe (played by Hugh Grant) and young stable hand Norman Scott (Ben Whishaw) in the 1960s.” The book, a work of true crime, was written by John Preston and published in 2016.
Given this week’s news about North Korea, learn more about that country with A River in Darkness by Masaji Ishikawa and Risa Kobayashi for $1.99.
Getting ready for a road trip? Try Walden on Wheels by Ken Ilgunas for $1.99.
Thinking about travel or other cultures? At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider is available for $1.99.