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Review | Anthony Bourdain’s messy, brilliant life comes into focus in a new oral biography

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Collectively, their stories and memories are heartbreaking, infuriating, inspiring, devastating, loving and sometimes even disorienting. We learn over the course of more than 400 pages that the portrait Bourdain painted of himself – tough, empathetic, witty, curious, damaged, competitive, no-nonsense – was just a sketch. There were still so many shades to fill in. The transparency Bourdain implicitly promised us through his writings and shows, we find out, was much more opaque.

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