Book Review : Love, Loss and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi

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Rating: 2.5/5
I don’t know whether to call this an auto-biography or a memoir. Padma Lakshmi calls it a memoir so memoir it shall be.
I’ve changed the rating of this book twice now. I was vacillating between 2.5 and 3. As you can see I’ve settled on 2.5 but I think I took Ms. Lakshmi’s vacillating ( between men, between countries, between careers, even between food!)  in her book to heart because I want to change it to 3 again. No, I changed my mind. It’s staying at 2.5. I’ll tell you why.
The book is  entertaining, I didn’t get bored and I didn’t struggle to finish the book, but I think that was more due to my curiosity of delving into the private life of a well known American Indian.
I wanted to understand who this woman was, what her journey was and how she got to where she is. Everyone knows her from Top Chef but I’ve always been curious as to how she got there. Every time she critiqued the food she was tasting on the show, I kind of wanted to roll my eyes (sorry). With no formal training in gastronomy and never having held a job in the food industry, I used to find myself thinking how is a self professed home cook allowed to comment on a professional cooks dishes. I guess I never found it fair. Even if a person if a fair amount of well-travelled, having lived and travelled around the world, how do you know when you know enough to be able to offer a valid comment with a certain amount of authority? I digress. Back to the book.  
One thing that does come across is that Ms. Lakshmi has lived life. She’s been everywhere and experienced as much as she could have given the opportunities she was given. She really has grabbed the bull by its horn. I admire her for that. The woman has balls and isn’t afraid to use them. Her fear of missing out and not experiencing anything far outweighed her fear of the unknown. I liked reading about her escapades in Europe, her foray into modelling, her no regrets attitude, her no holds bar narrative.
I wanted to get to know her. And to be fair, she has allowed that to happen. She hasn’t held back anything and to me, it seems like she really did tell the truth. She might not have come off in the best light in some situations which she could have easily hidden or omitted, but she didn’t. She allowed it to stay and thereby exposing herself and her family to international scrutiny. Told ya. Balls. Or the inability to let go of a good opportunity. According to Mr. Rushdie in his book Joseph Anton, it's the latter

This is the woman Salman Rushdie married. They were in a relationship for 7 years. A good portion of it in the beginning occurred over the phone according to Ms. Lakshmi. If that is true, and i’m inclined to believe her, the woman is more than a pretty face. If she had to hold and keep Mr. Rushdie's interest over the phone, she must have something to bring to the table other than vapid laughter and good looks. Right? She was also in a relationship with Teddy Forstmann, a man 30- something years her senior. He said she was smart. Of course she is. Can't judge a book by its cover. Right?
To be honest, I don’t know. The book is weird like that. It's brutally honest at times and mysteriously vague at others.  The timeline is all over the place, whether by choice or accident I don’t know. She is repetitive at times, repeating the exact same sentence at multiple points in the book. She also repeats the subject matter over and over at different junctions in the book which isn’t a big deal but I found unnecessary and annoying. I think I have an issue with the editing of it if anything. It annoys me that I don’t like the book more. The subject is fascinating, the stories are there, the narrative flows if disjointedly, all the ingredients are present to make a good memoir. Hopefully she's better at putting together ingredients when she's cooking than she is as a writer. 
I’m not going to get into the details of what she wrote, who she wrote about, etc. Suffice to say, it is very interesting. In short order, there were  times when I wanted to slap her, comfort her, walk away from the hot mess and/or party with her. She’s a handful. And the more I get distance from the book, the more I appreciate her guts at laying it all bare. She doesn’t for a single minute go out of her way to make us like her. If anything, she dares us not to. Which is refreshing. And unusually - or stupidly- candid. Which is nice. 
Here’s my problem with it. It’s just so badly written. It’s like she wrote it in chunks and then copy and pasted it into some semblance of a book. The sentences are short and to the point, almost as if she wanted to quickly get the point across before she changed her mind or forgot, to note the facts without being disturbed (or distracted maybe?)  by theatrics or drama. She jumps around on the timeline which keeps it interesting and leads for some interesting segues, but it isn’t a smooth enough of a transition. I ended up being disoriented and confused, needing to get my bearings before continuing on. For someone not intimately aware of her life and it’s timeline, I spent a good amount of time confused which is annoying when reading an interesting book, no?
And that my friends, is the only reason the book gets 2.5 instead of the 4 I wish I could give it, but it is a book after all and no matter how interesting the subject is, if it is not written well, it has essentially forgotten the first rule to being a good book.
I’m so mad at her for not writing the book better. Or getting a ghost writer. I was disinclined to like her. I wanted to dismiss her. But somehow I am now in line behind Salman Rushdie, Teddy Forstmann, Adam Dell, and apparently Richard Gere. She’s spunky. Unapologetic. Ballsy. I can't get a read of her though. I like her and then I don't. I'm engaged yet disconnected. I've had enough and yet I want more. 
I walk away from reading her book with a few key words ringing in my head. Two days later, I can't remember reading about anything other than the men in her life, endometriosis and her career. 
I don't like her.
Now I do.
~Rumi

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