Yet I was deeply touched by his struggles and felt that I learned a great deal about things I hadnt fully understood before. A mother's job is to protect her child, to make life a better place. As he grew, his feelings became more and more defined. Born into a devoutly Catholic, food-crazed family of Azorean immigrants in 1960s Fall River, Massachusetts, David Leite had a childhood that was the stuff of sitcoms. Notes on a Banana is his heartfelt, unflinchingly honest, yet tender memoir of growing up, accepting himself, and turning his love of food into an award-winning career.
The book is infused with humility and a sense of humor. In this book we read of his young years and self-acceptance and how he turned his love of food into a career that has brought him many awards. I did enjoy this book but I kept wondering, since it is a book club pick dealing with food books, where I read this book for a new book group I am going to join soon. Food does play a big role. But David also struggled with the emotional devastation of bipolar disorder.
They read books about food, not necessarily cookbooks. Some of his blog posts are among the best things I've ever read. To me, this chef extraordinaire really understood food and how to bring out the best flavors and textures from any recipe. His self-loathing brings him to a cult-like group which makes him miserable as it tries to make him heteosexual. He seems to have had a slew of bad therapists, unfortunately. But halfway through the book I was just not enjoying it.
You feel like you are inside of David's head, you can feel every emotion that he is experiencing, you feel his pain, his frustrations, his joy, and in my opinion his ultimate triumphs and joy at the life that he is now leading with Alan aka, The One. What an awful, amazing mental illness. I marvel at his ability to capture a moment, be it hilarious or sad. So just recently I read two memoirs at once, not by design but just by accident of them coming from the library at the same time and my having to race unsuccessfully, as it happened their due dates, like two cartons of milk in the fridge. Many would say he had the perfect childhood but that is the whole point of David's story. You can see the tremendous amount of pain and courage that it must have taken to write this book and leave yourself so open to strangers, in the hopes that if one person is feeling what you felt, that here is always hope and a light at the end of the tunnel if you are fortunate enough to find it.
This is a book about growing into your own identity no matter what. I loved this book, I am so grateful that David shared his life with us. A must read for all foodies and memoir lovers who know the power food and family have to overcome nearly every obstacle in life. T Having grown up in southeastern Massachusetts with many Azorean Portuguese classmates, I was drawn to this new memoir written by food writer David Leite. Leite has managed the unlikely feat of combining a work of laugh-out-loud humor with the solemn subject of mental illness. All the descriptions the author provided would have gone great with photos. Couldn't finish it The writing itself is good, funny at times and descriptive.
I don't like to disclose too much about a book so that others may have their own experiences, unfiltered. Don't underestimate it as a coping mechanism. Leite introduces us to the happy memories and tribulations that have assailed him. Notes on a Banana is a wonderfully entertaining book, full of colorful descriptions and delightful characters, and yet it is also quite thought-provoking. Yet, this book pierced my heart in ways that were totally unexpected. What a wonderful and powerful story. I will reread it so I don't miss out on the beautiful passages or handy cooking tips.
Until he was diagnosed in his mid-thirties, David found relief from his wild mood swings in learning about food, watching Julia Child, and cooking for others. The book is funny and hopeful even during some of its darkest passages, a deft balancing act that has brought Leite pre-publication comparisons with Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris. I plunged into Notes on a Banana on a long plane ride and, by the time I landed state-side, I felt like I was the authors best friend! Coming to terms with the solidity of his family and their Portugese ways, his struggle with his sexuality, his yearning for love and acceptance, his friendships, glory holing and relationship with Alan were deeply moving. And I can well relate to finding solace in the kitchen. Don't underestimate it as a coping mechanism.
Humor can literally save your life. I have known David through several foods groups for many years. Every Azorean family has a sainted great aunt, trust me on this. But what noone knew was that this smart-ass, determined dreamer with a vivid imagination also struggled with the frightening mood swings of bipolar disorder. I didn't want to stop. What I was totally surprised at when reading his book was the horrendous battles he was going through dealing with the invisible illness known as manic depression.
And maybe David was afraid his mother would be angry or outraged at this raw version of the anguish of David's childhood. You can feel for his parents, and for David, at the shared frustrations of being a parent and not knowing how to help your child, as a child not knowing how to convey what you are experiencing,and yet no matter what happens, no matter how much families may experience levels of estrangement for various reasons, the message that love will get you through things if you can allow yourself to see it. I laughed, I cried, I smiled and I felt the emotional roller coaster of Davids life, love and mental health challenges. Each style is very true to its author. He writes of the people who helped to shape him and his career and at the ups and downs he encountered.
This memoir also grapples with what it was like growing up gay in the 60's and 70's. All the while, his undiagnosed bipolar disorder runs through the narrative- bouts of depression and then lots of creative energy when hypomanic. While the vivid writing returns in later chapters, it doesn't quite have the same holographic quality. This is their selection for July. Woven throughout these stories are the dishes David loves—the tastes that led him to happiness, health, and success.