When They Leave


This piece, by Sara Benincasa, around the death of Anthony Bourdain, may have been the best one that I read:

I understand when people are shocked that a wealthy person, a successful person, a beloved person would kill himself. Or herself. When someone has the external trappings of success, we may find ourselves astonished and even pissed that he’d choose to shuffle off this mortal coil. I think this is because we imagine that if we had the TV shows, the wealth, the fame, the books, the adulation, the acclaim, that everything would be all right. It’s what we are taught. And it’s bullshit.


Bourdain was a brilliant memoirist. Personal nonfiction writing can give the illusion that you know its author quite well, that he is your friend, that she really understands you. It’s only an illusion, and when it works, it’s because the writing is good. I didn’t know him. Probably neither did you. And when this short essay ends, you won’t know me either.

Pointed and poignant.


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