Anthony Bourdain is my favorite writer these days, bar none, but what’s up with his punctuation?
I’m thrilled he’s regularly blogging about his new season of No Reservations, giving us his behind-the-scenes perspective on things. Those posts read like rough first drafts, pounded out on the fly, never to be reread, edited, or even proofed. I’m OK with that. They sound like he’s talking directly to you. Even on his worst days – with perhaps a raging hangover – his innate wit enables him to express himself more vividly than most people.
But in Envy, his latest post about his visit to Spain, I couldn’t help noticing some commas deliberately, glaringly, in inappropriate places. I quote:
An interesting visual, phenomonen occurred during the editing of the Spain show.
Understand: Albert, along with his brother, Ferran, is a chef/owner of the three Michelin starred El Bulli, the hardest to reserve, restaurant table in the world.
A jarring, flood of endorphins, then brain overload, and for a second, a blinding light.
And if I wanted to get nitpicky, I could rag on his peculiar misuse of semicolons:
Suffice to say that just about anywhere in the world of fine dining, from Shanghai to San Francisco; when Albert walks in the door, the whole place goes on Red Alert.
But let’s not go there.
These aren’t bold stylistic quirks, but rookie boo-boos that typically make writers wince with embarrassment if they get published.
It’s got me wondering if we’ve ever seen Bourdain’s true technical competence as a writer in his books, or if some devoted editor with a stake in boosting his literary career has been making his work look much more polished than it ever really was.