Friday, January 11, 2013

“The Bobby Gold Stories” – Book Review



This year on my New Year’s vacation, I finished reading “The Bobby Gold Stories” (published by Bloomsbury in 2002) by Anthony Bourdain

Although “The Bobby Gold Stories” is described (on its cover, anyway) as a novel, it really is nothing more than an eponymously titled book containing a collection of 12 short stories whose only common thread is its fictional protagonist, Bobby Gold; it is really just the last few stories (I hesitate to call them chapters) that appear to have any kind of a narrative story that ties one to the other, much in the way that you would expect a novel to do.  While entertaining, funny and a quick read (it’s a short book that you’ll fly through quickly whether on vacation or spending summer weekends at the beach), it is hardly what I would think of as a novel in its strictest – or most traditional, at least – sense.

Essentially, it contains tales of Bobby Gold, ostensibly a hit-man for the mob while holding down a “normal” security job at nightclubs and restaurants owned by his gangster bosses.  While a teenager, Bobby was convicted on a drug bust and spent a decade in prison, where he effectively attended graduate school on how to be a criminal and constructively spent his time building up his scrawny Jewish frame into a muscular and imposing 6’4” physique.  Emerging from his stint as a tough guy, he is ultimately re-hired by the men he worked for as a raw youth – but now, in a rougher, tougher, more dangerous endeavor. 

Following many tales of Bobby both on and off the job, we are treated to something of a love story – or should I characterize it as a lust story? – when Bobby hooks up with Nikki, a cook at the club where he works as a bouncer.  Ultimately, Nikki confesses to Bobby that she collaborated with a kitchen colleague to relieve their mutual employer of some excess pecuniary instruments without said employer’s prior knowledge or consent.  This peccadillo results in the employer sending some of his select associates after Nikki to reclaim the booty – but when Bobby decides to assist Nikki in her escape, this results in the both of them putting their lives at risk.

As a fan of much of Bourdain’s work – including and especially his fiction – I have to say that this was not one of his best efforts.  In an attempt to wring out yet another tale of organized crime connected with the hospitality industry, Bourdain only succeeded in what appears to be something of a half-hearted effort that lacked much of the soul and enthusiasm of other works like “Gone Bamboo” or “A Bone In The Throat”.  An uninspired piece, this is hardly something worth savoring; if you do choose to read it, finish it quickly and don’t try to think too much about it after you’re done – any further energy spent would most certainly be an egregious  waste.






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