First off, let’s tackle the elephant—or maybe on this case, the elephant garlic—within the room: The Lemon is not “The Anthony Bourdain Story.”
Sure, it opens with a chef/meals author/TV host’s on-location demise by suicide, which is found by his longtime greatest buddy (additionally a well-known chef). And whereas there are just a few different passing similarities to Bourdain’s sudden and surprising exit, The Lemon reads extra like a bawdy Judd-Apatow-meets-Carl-Hiaasen romp than a roman a clef within the method of Joe Klein’s Major Colours.
Nothing in The Lemon is sort of because it appears, beginning with the writer. S.E. Boyd is the nom de plume of a trio that features James Beard Award-winning meals author Kevin Alexander, journalist Joe Keohane and ebook editor Alessandra Lusardi. It’s evident that they’re snug shifting about in high-end foodie and media circles, given their facility with dropping real-life names into the combo, from The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik to writer Malcolm Gladwell. Even Bourdain himself makes a cameo, as if to make sure he’s not mistaken for the deceased fictional chef, John Doe.
Different names have been modified to guard the harmless (or no less than to keep away from authorized penalties). Chef Paolo Cabrini stands in admirably for Bourdain’s restaurateur buddy Éric Ripert, T. Kendall Solar-Ramirez is definitely the doppelganger of J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (The Meals Lab), and Mark Fowler of the TV present “Prime of the Morning” bears greater than a passing resemblance to deposed “Immediately” host Matt Lauer.
However the 4 most vital names to notice are Nia Greene, John’s longtime producing companion and agent; Paolo Cabrini, John’s aforementioned superstar chef pal; Katie Horatio, aspiring journalist; and Charlie McCree, a cross between the Fortunate Charms leprechaun and the demon spawn of Chucky. They, and their supporting forged, wrestle amongst themselves to manage the narrative surrounding John’s demise, as a result of there’s a possible payoff within the post-Doe media tableau.
The dialogue crackles, the zip line plot slings the reader from one hilariously fraught incident to the following, and the conclusion is as emotionally satisfying as ever an writer—or three—may have concocted. Like a wonderfully seared slice of foie gras with a dollop of lingonberry jam on an artisanal toast level, The Lemon merely can’t be put down, and once you’ve completed it, you’ll need extra.