Reading this Anthony Bourdain oral history is a real gut punch

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Drew Magary is a beloved contributor to The Takeout, but that’s like the 10th thing down on his resume. Magary’s main hustle is writing for our sibling site Deadspin and as a correspondent for GQ (his Justin Bieber profile is required reading).

This morning saw publication of his story in GQ long in the works: an oral history of the late Anthony Bourdain, and folks, it’s a real punch in the guts. There are at least three passages in the piece that are going to stay with me—the part about his daughter, what President Obama told him about fatherhood, what he told Andrew Zimmern moments before the director said “action”—and altogether, the piece paints the most vivid portrait of Bourdain I’ve read since his death.

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From a journalistic perspective: Oral histories are surprisingly difficult to pull off. They’re often self-indulgent, and narrative flow is usually forsaken. But what makes the story particularly effective is how the details are illustrative of the subject:

Chris Collins (co-founder of Zero Point Zero Productions): Tony was also sorta klutzy.

Lydia Tenaglia (co-founder of Zero Point Zero Productions): Very klutzy.

Peter Meehan (former editor of Lucky Peach): He had an AOL e-mail address.

Magary talked to everyone for this piecefrom The New Yorker’s David Remnick and Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme to brother Chris Bourdain and chef Eric Ripert (who was traveling with Bourdain when Bourdain killed himself in a French hotel in June). It’s really tough to read in parts and an awfully impressive piece of reporting.

Give GQ and our pal Drew your click.

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About the author

Kevin Pang

Kevin Pang was the founder and editor-in-chief of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace on Netflix.