David Senra

November 30, 2021

Anthony Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography


My top 10 highlights from the book

1. He demanded excellence, and he never settled for shit. He just wanted the show to be the greatest thing ever, all the time.

2. It was his life's work, and he never slacked.

3. He gave me really good advice: "Stay public. You gotta promote, promote, promote, or it all dies. You just gotta be out there all the time." Tony embraced that.

4. All the energy he'd put into trying to destroy himself, he put that into building himself back up. All that negative energy became something else. He became so serious, and so driven and focused. He worked really hard. 

It takes a lot of determination to wake up early in the morning and write, and then go to a job in the kitchen, and come home at god knows what hour, and get up the next morning and do it again. He was a fiend. 

One time, he said about his disciplined writing regimen, "Such was my lust to see my name in print." He threw himself into his work in a manner that I found astonishing.

5. The line between Tony and the show was very thin, if it existed at all.

6. He proceeded to tell everyone to ignore the network. He said, "Completely ignore everything they're saying about music, about story, about shots. Let me deal with it all. I'm gonna make the show I want to make, across all fronts.” I had already been editing for ten years, and this was the first time I'd heard anything like this. Everyone is always just trying to make the network happy.

7. Tony gorged himself on being alive.

8. The world is not better off with him not here. It's just not.

9. I liked him better when he was just kind of living his best life and looking in the rearview mirror like he stole something. This beautiful life that he had, something people would dream of, and no one else could do it but him. A "slit my wrist" love story is just the shittiest ending to it all.

10. This life isn't a greenroom for something else. He went for it.

About David Senra

Learn from history's greatest founders. Every week I read a biography of an entrepreneur and tell you what I learned on Founders podcast