The Ghost of Bourdain

All I wanted was a hard cover copy of A Cook’s Tour, one of Bourdain’s early books after Kitchen Confidential, for my personal library. I noticed that eBay had a nice selection of books for fairly cheap and some places offered free shipping. If I could get a good copy for a few bucks instead of waiting for a local shop to get one in then I would buy one online. I found a copy by a library bookstore and they were offering free shipping. I figured throwing a few dollars to a library was a good investment for everyone. I placed my $8 order and waited, and waited, and wondered if it would ever come. Today I came home after running some errands and found some packages on the porch, one of them was for me. I opened the package to find my copy of A Cook’s Tour. I flipped through the pages to see if it was a first edition and found the signature first. The loud obnoxious “Hello!” was in my face and I turned the light on to see if it was real. Flipping the page over there was that indentation of a pen being pressed against the page. I had seen these before, the early signatures being simple and a quick scribble of his name, during a time he wondered if his fame was a fad and if it was all going to fall apart at some time unexpectedly. This was before the knife or the skull and the addition of “cook free or die” written on the page. I have found gems like this before. A signed first edition of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay with an inscription by the author Michael Chabon was on the shelf at a local store of $1. I bought it and took it home feeling little guilt happy to know it would stay in my collection for decades to come. This was the first book I read where I thought to myself “this is what writing is all about.” My taste has changed over the years but that one book has always stayed with me. Other have come my way over the years, John Updike is a common occurrence, Jim Harrison is on the list, and the local Bonnie Jo Campbell is a dime a dozen in town but I don’t pass them up. This by far is the best find I have come by after seeing dozens of Bourdain’s signed books online for hundreds of dollars and wondering if I would ever be able to own one. I couldn’t help but wonder if his ghost swiped its hand and said “ya know, he’s always been a big fan, stuck through until the end, here you go young man.” I had been looking over his estate auction wondering if I could buy part of his personal library, but this is so much better and in my price range. Somehow, someway, this book came my way, and that need for a person bit of Bourdain’s history being in my life is complete. From now on this book is not for sale, it’s staying on the shelf, I’ll take it out for moments of inspiration and when I die the kids will likely donate it to the local goodwill. I hope I raise them right. Maybe it’s time to get that “Cook free or die” tattoo.

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