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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Typhoid Mary

Typhoid Mary
by Anthony Bourdain
160 pages

I requested this book when I first joined in October 2007. I finally got a copy of it in November 2008. And when it arrived, my husband picked it up before I could! He's a fan of Anthony Bourdain's tv show and he figured it would be fun to read. Luckily for me he put it down after a few chapters (he's a really slow reader and I would have had to wait quite a while for him to finish it).

I think most people have at least of Typhoid Mary, the turn-of-the-century American cook who spread typhoid in her wake. Bourdain takes a look at her story from the perspective of her job as cook, showing how her profession and the time she lived in shaped her actions. The book alternates between a discussion of food and cooking in the early 1900s, newspaper reports of Mary's case, and Bourdain's opinions on what Mary might have been thinking at any given time.

It was interesting for sure, but I can't say that this format really worked for me. I loved the background on the time period; I learned a lot in just a few pages that I didn't know before. However, Bourdain writes the same way he talks. If you are familiar with his TV show then you'll know what I mean. He is sarcastic, caustic, witty, and sometimes a bit much for me. I guess I want less opinion with my facts, and more facts in general.

That said, this was an easy book to read and I finished it in just a few days. It wasn't bad but it wasn't great either.

Have you read/reviewed this one? Is it something you'd want to read?


Anonymous said...

I didn't realize Anthony Bourdoin is an author. My hubby and son love his show.

Ti said...

I read Bourdain's other book, Kitchen Confidential and enjoyed it, but I appreciate his caustic sense of humor.

I remember hearing about this book but then I forgot about it. I didn't know it has been written in a format.

valentina said...

I never heard of Typhoid Mary! it sounds a bit creepy though :P

Alyce said...

This book sounds like it would be interesting. I've always wanted to learn more about Typhoid Mary. How horrible it must have been for her.

Anonymous said...

Oooh I love Anthony Bourdain. Adding to my goodreads list...

Anonymous said...

It sounds like it didn't work for your husband, either. How disappointing, after waiting over a year for the book to be granted on your PBS wish list.

Care said...

GREAT review - I linked to it. I think Ms. Mary must have been quite the character.

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