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Down and Out in Paradise, Charles Leerhsen

A surprising, and at numerous occasions, disturbing look at the life of Anthony Bourdain. Having mentioned in the past that I am an admirer of his TV work and series, it was alarming to read about his inner disintegration that came from love.. the love from a woman who was rejecting him. AB was a man widely perceived, and beloved, as the ultimate straight shooter, but this was not the fact-checkable truth. I know TV, having been on a series, and in the end you long to search for truth moments among all the set-ups, and planned moments from the camera. His persona was partly reality, partly himself drawing on his misbegotten past, the drugs and the booze and all the rest of it.. and he created s larger than life presence on TV – part him and part something else. AB frequented prostitutes during his marriages and long-term relationships with women - as an example.

AB became a schoolboy with a crush on a younger woman with a jagged and jaded past and present. He became a child who had met his first girlfriend – a puppy dog love that most men experience in their teens and early 20s, he experienced in his early 60s No matter how hard he tried to please her – with affection, money, moral support, ingesting large amounts of steroids, HGH, Viagra to seem younger and more youthful…everything. Asia Argento felt, eventually he was a nag and pathetic, and wanted to break up with him. A bizarrely complicated and decadent relationship not bound by the usual societal or logical considerations. From what he had been and how far he had come to now – a doomed and desperate lover showing actions to a woman who respected less and less of him with each effort he made on her behalf. A person who had talented, loyal people living in constant fear of being banished from a show for which they’d worked hard and given up much to be great. Such a feeling must have been overwhelming for him to see in his own reflection. So he decided to end it and be at peace with himself.

This book does not change my admiration for AB on his creative side, all the good work and inspiration and pleasurable moments he provided from his TV series. He was a human being like we all are, and nothing is ever black and white. We all have problems and internal demons within us, and in June of 2018, those demons were too much for him to bare.


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