A friend of mine recently told me that he'd just finished some volume of Proust. And the other day I watched Super Nanny. Madeleine or naughty chair?! Anyways, I responded immediately with, man, I haven't read anything in the longest time.
Except I was reading something. I was in the middle of Marco Pierre White's memoir Devil in the Kitchen. Obviously it didn't make much of an impact on me.
I find I often have problems with memoirs. The main reason is that there is usually a great reason for writing a work about the person. The problem is that the writing and editing can fail to live up to the material. And then the book, in turn, fails to live.
Marco Pierre White is a superfamous, influential British chef and one of, if not the, originator of that bad boy chef persona in and out of the kitchen. Without him, there'd be no Gordon Ramsay, no Hell's Kitchen, no publicity for cooking mavericks. The book takes you through his lonely youth and passion-fueled career and various business and personal relationships. Though there are interesting insights into working in the restaurant business littered throughout and you get the sense that White is struggling through some tough personal memories, it all seems to fall kind of flat and generic -- the very opposite of his culinary creations and his own singular character. There's little of the personal analysis or shared introspection that Anthony Bourdain brings to the table (but perhaps his writing skills are better than his cookery?) in his food-world books.
In the photos that are included in the middle, MPW looks much happier, smiling, fishing and with his wife and kids. At least he seems much more content and at peace with himself.