Sweetbitter

Sweetbitter

Book - 2016 | First edition.
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                                             NATIONAL BEST SELLER

"Brilliantly written... Sweetbitter  is the Kitchen Confidential  of our time."
--Gabrielle Hamilton, author of Blood, Bones & Butter , New York Times Book Review

A lush, raw, thrilling novel of the senses about a year in the life of a uniquely beguiling young woman, set in the wild, seductive world of a famous New York City restaurant.

"Let's say I was born when I came over the George Washington Bridge... " This is how we meet unforgettable Tess, the twenty-two-year-old at the heart of this stunning debut. Shot from a mundane, provincial past, Tess comes to New York in the stifling summer of 2006. Alone, knowing no one, living in a rented room in Williamsburg, she manages to land a job as a "backwaiter" at a celebrated downtown Manhattan restaurant. This begins the year we spend with Tess as she starts to navigate the chaotic, enchanting, punishing, and privileged life she has chosen, as well as the remorseless and luminous city around her. What follows is her education: in oysters, Champagne, the appellations of Burgundy, friendship, cocaine, lust, love, and dive bars. As her appetites awaken--for food and wine, but also for knowledge, experience, and belonging--we see her helplessly drawn into a darkly alluring love triangle. With an orphan's ardor she latches onto Simone, a senior server at the restaurant who has lived in ways Tess only dreams of, and against the warnings of coworkers she falls under the spell of Jake, the elusive, tatted up, achingly beautiful bartender. These two and their enigmatic connection to each other will prove to be Tess's most exhilarating and painful lesson of all.

Stephanie Danler intimately defines the crucial transition from girl to woman, from living in a place that feels like nowhere to living in a place that feels like the center of the universe. She deftly conjures the nonstop and purely adrenalized world of the restaurant--conversations interrupted, phrases overheard, relationships only partially revealed. And she evokes the infinite possibilities, the unbearable beauty, the fragility and brutality of being young in New York with heart-stopping accuracy. A lush novel of the senses--of taste and hunger, seeing and understanding, love and desire-- Sweetbitter is ultimately about the power of what remains after disillusionment, and the transformation and wisdom that come from our experiences, sweet and bitter. 
Publisher: New York :, Alfred A. Knopf,, 2016.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781101875940
1101875941
Characteristics: 356 pages
356 pages
356 pages

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singasong70
Nov 28, 2018

Agree with previous reviewer r/t who gets published, praised.
Decided not to bother r/t reviews here - time is more valuable than that.
Thanks for letting me know!

a
agoldsby
Oct 07, 2018

The best way to sum up this book is mediocrity at its best. I'm convinced in America certain people are praised and deemed successful even when their work is boring and predictable. In this case, you'll even get a tv show out of it! Do not waste your time, this is not a new story. This isn't even a fully developed story. The author doesn't give us the benefit of a backstory for our main character. As far as we know she began her existence when she got to NYC and unfortunately the author goes out of her way to make the reader dislike Tess as the story goes on. Tess is a shrill and eternal victim who demonstrates all of the ugly qualities women dislike about other women -especially when a guy is at the root. My favorite characters were the wine, Simone and Sasha. I appreciate undiluted characters who present a strong voice. In short, this story was dry as toast. The ending made me even further disappointed in the main character. This could have been a really good story if we focused on all the characters and the behind the scenes of the restaurant. But alas we are stuck with this spiteful, drug addicted broke down waitress version of Carrie Bradshaw. But hey, it's America and here, mediocrity gets published, made into a tv show and eventually nominated for all the awards. I'm even bored writing these comments, for which I also blame the author.

ArapahoeTiegan Jul 12, 2018

I started out really liking this book. The premise of a 22-year-old moving to New York and getting a job in a high-end restaurant was pretty intriguing. It started out pretty good, but just went downhill from there. Overall, I found myself disappointed. The writing was nice, but the characters had no dimensions, and the story was not what I had hoped it to be.

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bktm2586
Jun 28, 2018

I'm surprised so many other readers were disappointed. It is important, however, to know what you're getting into. This is basically a coming-of-age memoir. Yes, it's officially fiction, but if you Google this book or the author at all, you'll see that it's virtually her life, with some characters and names changed, just slightly. Also, it's just one year-in-the-life.

That said, it's beautifully written. If you love food, you'll love the detailed descriptions of all parts of fine dining, in one of New York's best restaurant. And, since NYC has about 7,000 good places to eat, that's saying something. And if you're interested in relationships, power struggles, love and disappointment, the author has a lot to say. And all this by a young, first-time author. An amazing accomplishment.

s
sooperhockeygirl88
Jun 13, 2018

How this got made into a TV series is beyond me. The "story" got no where. The main character Tess is simply a waitress who just moved to New York looking to start a new life. We don't know her past and we never will in the book. We just learn that she's envious of another co-worker's life, including her boyfriend. Tess is a drunk. A druggie. Still trying to find life. Never finds it. Even when the book is over.

On the plus side, there is some eloquent writing as the author describes food and the senses. There is also a nice poem tribute to 9/11 weaved in out of the blue.

Read it only if you have a lot of boredom to kill. Then you realize it's time you'll never get back. Just like Tess' life in New York City.

w
WinstonO
May 08, 2018

One of the worst books I've ever read! I graduated from cooking school & worked in restaurants so to me the plot is totally unreasonable. No one with no experience is going to get a FOH or BOH job without experience, especially in a 3 - 5 star restaurant. It didn't have much description of people, places, things, impressions. The dialogue was flat. There was nothing to hold my attention.

This was a librarian recommendation but it makes me wonder if any librarian read it. I only read it as part of the Pick 10 program.

s
smpowe5
Mar 20, 2018

One of the first books I have checked out that I didn't feel the need to finish. I read about half of it and it seemed to be going nowhere with no real storyline. Characters didn't catch my interest and just reminded me why I didn't enjoy working in a restaurant.

k
Kcota22
Oct 11, 2017

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was wary at first, considering I am not one particularly interested in food literature or New York living; however, after reading a few chapters and getting into the style of writing, I was pleasantly surprised. The author has a beautiful way of prose writing and I felt like I could really relate to the main character solely through her descriptions of other characters in the novel and her mentality in general. I thought that the "lack of a plot" was intentional and was entirely part of the novel's glory. Not every character has to change or evolve in some way through the process of the book. I do believe that Tess learned a lot about the New York style of living and about the people and food, but she, as a character, didn't really change, and I think that was the point. Overall, I thought it was very enjoyable to read.

k
KatG1983
Oct 02, 2017

I never made it passed page 130. It's not that this a badly written book - the author is competent and somewhat talented ... but there was no plot, just vague storyline. The book would be better sold as 'scenes from a restaurant', rather than a story with any sort of plot to follow. Perhaps a more coherent story takes shape after page 130, but I just didn't care enough about the characters to get there.

jen480480 Jul 19, 2017

I had high hopes for this book, especially considering all of the hype, but I couldn't get past the first few chapters. The writing was spastic at best, the author did a poor job of introducing the characters and giving me a reason to feel emotionally invested in them (this is particularly true of the protagonist), and every chapter followed the same plot line. Yawn.

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bktm2586
Jun 28, 2018

bktm2586 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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