We lost the legendary Anthony Bourdain, star of CNN’s Parts Unknown, a year ago this coming June 8, and for many, it seems like yesterday.
Certainly just thinking of him brings up a plethora of feelings you can’t really put a finger on – joy, admiration, sorrow. In fact, with that slightly sardonic turn of his lips, like he was constantly enjoying a private memory with only himself – Bourdain was truly bigger than life, even bigger still in his death by his own hand.
So when the hardcover Anthony Bourdain Remembered (CNN; HarperCollins Publishers) arrived, it reawakened if not outright jolted emotions of grief over the loss of such a great man. The book is a profound look into those who surrounded Bourdain, offering a moving and insightful collection of quotes, memories and images celebrating his life. When Bourdain died, I suspect he took a tiny piece of everyone who loved and adored him with him. Certainly the outpouring of love and emotion from his fans around the world was monumental, with thousands upon thousands of tributes pouring in from the most famous to just plain folks who loved his work.
It’s been written his work rescued many a broken spirit.
Anthony Bourdain Remembered pays a truly loving tribute to a man as complex as he was open, feisty as he was private, and someone who truly cared about every subject matter he explored.
“Tony was driven by deep curiosity and respect for the people and places whose stories he told,” writes Amy Entelis, executive vice-president for talent and content development for CNN Worldwide, in the book’s forward. “The series added a dimension of humanity that is sometimes missing from our stories … Tony’s work was refreshing and sometimes controversial, but we know that viewers embraced his honesty.”
Every page bears a photo of Bourdain, comfortable in his own skin, the lines on his handsome face growing more pronounced with each pose, be he sitting, standing, slouching, leaning, and always with that mysterious grin. Each page bears a passage from those who came in contact with him, either in person or through his work – or just running into him on the fly.
The book is not unlike a literary wake, where everyone speaks on the profound impact Bourdain had on them, be they powerful food names or his crew or strangers who were lucky to have run into him.
Two passages truly break your heart: “Anthony was my best friend,” wrote Eric Ripert, chef and author, whose love for his friend can be seen in every photo of the two together. “He was an exceptional human being, so inspiring and generous. One of the great storytellers of our time who connected with so many around the world on a level rarely seen.”
“I loved the guy, and he was a light of kindness and good vibes in my life,” wrote musician Iggy Pop – whom Bourdain was so excited to have met and worked with.
The thing is, Bourdain gave meaning to everything he did, whether it was meeting culinary royalty or beaming that hooded gaze of his on the political mess of some country or other he was visiting. He was inquisitive by nature, shying away from calling himself a journalist – and yet, driven by his own curiosity and opportunity to report on the lives of those he touched throughout his work, particularly his work with CNN … he truly was one of the best damn journos around.
Bourdain was passionate and thorough, kind and generous, a gifted wordsmith and storyteller who, sadly, left us before he could finish telling his own story. Which makes this book all the more haunting, and may leave the reader with a sense of regret of what might have been, should have been but never was to be.
– Anthony Bourdain Remembered (CNN; HarperCollins Publishers.)