The Book List #17

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
year: 2000 | pages: 320 | rating: 2/5

While I enjoy watching Anthony Bourdain's television series Parts Unknown, his book - Kitchen Confidential - falls flat. The "seedy underbelly" Bourdain promises to expose is neither seedy nor shocking (unless the revelation that kitchen staff curse and tell crude jokes comes as somewhat of a surprise to you); nothing new or novel is revealed and the reminiscent stories of Bourdain's past aren't all that interesting either. I found Bourdain's narration to be monotone without life nor passion (even when he recalls the memory that ignited his love affair with food). Kitchen Confidential only served to make me realise the reason I like seeing the places Anthony Bourdain visits has nothing to do with Bourdain himself but the countries, food, and culture he experiences.

Tell All by Chuck Palahniuk
year: 2010 | pages: 192 | rating: 1/5

When Webster Carlton Westward III arrives on the scene to seduce Katherine Kenton, Hazie Coogan - Katherine's maid and our narrator - is suspicious of his ulterior motives. When Hazie finds Webster's written memoir of his life, she discovers a series of sinister alternative endings in which Katherine dies. Presuming Webster means to kill off Katherine to cash in on her story, Hazie has to find a way to stop him. A lot of name dropping and obscenities are dropped in this this ode to old Hollywood and the story itself fails to hold up to Palahniuk's previous work. The plot, although potentially intriguing, is weak; Tell All falls short and fails to deliver, leaving the reader apathetic.

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
year: 2011 | pages: 150 | rating: 4/5

The less you know of this story before you read it, the better. Our narrator is Tony Webster, a retired middle-aged divorcee living alone who remembers his four childhood friends, friends who swore to stay friends for life. Despite the less than eventful school years, a poignant moment sticks with Tony when he hears of another boy at the school who hung himself after getting a girl pregnant. When the four friends attend different universities at the end of school, their close friendship wanes.. until a lawyer's letter addressed to Tony turns up and he starts to question his childhood memories. A phenomenal short read where not everything is as it seems.

Under the Skin by Michel Faber
year: 2000| pages: 296 | rating: 3/5

This book is all about the big reveal; despite the synopsis sounding pretty self explanatory - "seductive female driver picks up hitchhikers who wouldn't be missed if they disappear" - Under the Skin isn't what you think it is and doesn't make much sense until about halfway through when the realisation finally you. Faber teases with slight hints and nudges throughout the first hundred pages, weaving an eerily compelling mystery.. but after the reveal things level out and end on a rather poignant, melancholic note.

{ the book list #1-16 }