An entertaining, admirably candid self-assessment of life in the foodie fast lane.

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EAT A PEACH

A MEMOIR

The debut memoir from the star chef and restaurateur.

It would be unfair to label Chang’s book as the Korean American Kitchen Confidential, but the similarities in tone and attitude certainly invoke the late Anthony Bourdain. The author, probably best known for his now-global Momofuku culinary brand, is no slouch as a writer, with a style that features a refreshingly defiant attitude and some of the best inessential footnotes since A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Chang whisks readers through the steps it takes to be a successful restaurateur, and he makes it clear that there are few ventures harder to pull off. During his first years in the restaurant trade, the author was the beneficiary of family money, a fact that he is not ashamed to admit: Chang’s father gave him a generous loan for the financial foundations of his series of restaurants. “There were no apologies or heartfelt conversations, only the money and the particulars of starting a business,” he writes. “[My father] was vulnerable. I was vulnerable. We were leaning on one another, just as a family might.” Following his early success, Chang began making TV appearances (he now has his own show on Netflix). Of course, there’s always a price for success. After moving to Australia and opening a restaurant, he began to feel the stress of managing his many global culinary assets, and a hepatitis scare in one of his restaurants put his business in danger. There’s also the inevitable chapter on his addictions: The author was a heavy drinker for years, and he also struggled with anger issues. Chang’s memoir eventually becomes a smorgasbord of random recall, covering everything from contemplating the ideal volume of the music in his restaurants to his extended bouts with depression and anxieties about his open-ended future in food.

An entertaining, admirably candid self-assessment of life in the foodie fast lane.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-5921-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

HUMANS

The creator of the hit internet series Humans of New York takes it global, chasing down a panoply of interesting stories.

In 1955, Edward Steichen staged a show called “The Family of Man,” a gathering of photographs that emphasized the commonality of humankind. Stanton’s project seemingly has much the same ambition. “You’ve created this magic little corner of the Web where people feel safe sharing their stories—without being ridiculed, or bullied, or judged,” he writes. “These stories are only honestly shared because they have a long history of being warmly received.” The ask is the hard part: approaching a total stranger and asking him or her to tell their stories. And what stories they are. A young Frenchwoman, tearful, recounts being able to see things from the spirit world that no one else can see. “And it’s been a very lonely existence since then,” she says. A sensible teenager in St. Petersburg, Russia, relates that her friends are trying to be grown-up, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, whereas she wants to remain a child close to her parents: “I’d like these times to last as long as possible.” A few stories are obnoxious, as with a Dutch incel who has converted himself into a pickup artist and outright cad: “Of course it’s manipulation, but why should I care? I’ve been manipulated so many times in my life.” A great many stories, some going for several pages but most taking up just a paragraph or two, are regretful, speaking to dashed dreams and roads not taken. A surprising number recount mental illness, depression, and addiction; “I’d give anything to have a tribe,” says a beleaguered mother in Barcelona. Some are hopeful, though, such as that of an Iranian woman: “I’ve fallen in love with literature. I try to read for one or two hours every day. I only have one life to live. But in books I can live one thousand lives.”

A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11429-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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An essential account of a chaotic administration that, Woodward makes painfully clear, is incapable of governing.

RAGE

That thing in the air that is deadlier than even your “strenuous flus”? Trump knew—and did nothing about it.

The big news from veteran reporter Woodward’s follow-up to Fear has been widely reported: Trump was fully aware at the beginning of 2020 that a pandemic loomed and chose to downplay it, causing an untold number of deaths and crippling the economy. His excuse that he didn’t want to cause a panic doesn’t fly given that he trades in fear and division. The underlying news, however, is that Trump participated in this book, unlike in the first, convinced by Lindsey Graham that Woodward would give him a fair shake. Seventeen interviews with the sitting president inform this book, as well as extensive digging that yields not so much news as confirmation: Trump has survived his ineptitude because the majority of Congressional Republicans go along with the madness because they “had made a political survival decision” to do so—and surrendered their party to him. The narrative often requires reading between the lines. Graham, though a byword for toadyism, often reins Trump in; Jared Kushner emerges as the real power in the West Wing, “highly competent but often shockingly misguided in his assessments”; Trump admires tyrants, longs for their unbridled power, resents the law and those who enforce it, and is quick to betray even his closest advisers; and, of course, Trump is beholden to Putin. Trump occasionally emerges as modestly self-aware, but throughout the narrative, he is in a rage. Though he participated, he said that he suspected this to be “a lousy book.” It’s not—though readers may wish Woodward had aired some of this information earlier, when more could have been done to stem the pandemic. When promoting Fear, the author was asked for his assessment of Trump. His reply: “Let’s hope to God we don’t have a crisis.” Multiple crises later, Woodward concludes, as many observers have, “Trump is the wrong man for the job.”

An essential account of a chaotic administration that, Woodward makes painfully clear, is incapable of governing.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982131-73-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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