Disclaimer: I am a Kevin Smith fan (probably a casual fan - not die hard) and love Clerks, Mallrats, and my favorite of all - Dogma. This book reminds me why I love Kevin Smith so much - for someone so successful, he remains completely humble, down to earth, self-depricating, and humble.
I really did not know what to expect with this book - I have read/listened to several other actors with their books, and usually, especially when they read their own work, are dry, boring, and sound like they are reading it for the first time. Kevin Smith did not read this book. He did not narrate the book. He instead speaks to the listener. It is kind of like listening to a Podcast - if I didn't know any better, I would not have known that he was actually reading a book. He even goes off script from time to time to add a few more touches of color commentary - the result is perfection.
It is supposed to be a life guide - I am not sure I leraned much other than to believe in yourself, becasue if a fat lazy slob like Kevin Smith can succeed, than so can you! That being said, it is a very charming and wonderful story of his life. The guilty teen girl who reads people magazine inside of me loved the chapter on Cop Out (which, honestly, did not know was a Kevin Smith film until now) and about what horrible person Bruce Willis is. His honesty is refreshing and told in a clever way.
And of course, he managed to be so sweet with the chapter on his wife, and brought a tear to my eye when his daughter read an essay she wrote. Kevin Smith is a great man, and hope he returns to film soon!
If you know Adam Carolla's work from the Man Show, Love Line, and his Pod Casts, you will find nothing new or groundbreaking here. But, in typical Adam Carolla fashion, he rants and raves on a variety of topics, and says a lot of many of us are thinking, but afraid to say. Of course, I cannot agree with his hating of Goat Cheese - I love the stuff!
Good, funny book, narrated very well.
This was my first time listening to a Humphrey Bower narration, and I could not be more impressed! He read this amazing tale with so much emotion and brought each character to life. Every character had their own voice, quirks, and speaking tempo. Humphrey Bower is the gold standard for narrations!
The story itself is simply excellent. Although it is quite long, it never feels to drag on - Courtenay develops each of the characters with so much depth, that you cannot help but cheer for the Despicable Isaac Solomon. Solomon and Mary Abacus make a wonderful team without falling into the typical plot lines of forcing a love story. While love is there, Courtenay stays true to the story and the desires and ambitions of his main characters. The transformation of Isaac Solomon throughout the book is fantastic - and even as he tries to move away from a life of crime and slowly becomes more human, he always remains the same, horrible person at his core. The only character I would have loved to see more of was the amazing Sperm Whale Sally.
The criticisms that the story was vulgar or racist are simply unfounded. There is certainly language, and some pretty graphic sexual scenes, they are never over the top or out of context. Everything is well written and intricately planned to develop the characters and progress the story line.
I cannot wait to start book two, as the development of Hawk's character towards the end of this book left me yearning for much more!
I love Anthony Bourdain's TV shows, and the way he speaks can be truly captivating - honest, rough, and to the point. This book however came off as a bit over the top with the snobbery, painting chefs as the hardest working members of our society. That's OK though - it is interesting to take a look behind the kitchen doors, and see how one of the most failed business ventures in America actually works.
What I really had a hard time with was the recording quality. There was no pause between chapters and it was very difficult to tell when he shifted to a new chapter. I found sometimes the only way to tell was when the subject completely shifted. I also found the quality of the sound would shift frequently, which was very distracting. As engaging of a speaker as Anthony Bourdain is, the majority of the book read in a fairly monotone, bored voice.
The flow of the book also did not feel right - I know the book is about Kitchens, but it felt as though it jumped around frequently, the reader had no real sense of timing in his life, and glossed over important events. I know it isn't a biography, but when you spend the first third of the book talking about how smacked out drugs he was and his addictions, but then suddenly - he was clean. Maybe through sheer willpower, but it felt as though it was very glossed over.
If you love Bourdain - maybe read the book vice listening, or just check out his televison shows. Much better production value.
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