Sweetbitter

Sweetbitter

A Novel

eBook - 2016
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Newly arrived in New York City, twenty-two-year-old Tess lands a job working front of house at a celebrated downtown restaurant. What follows is her education: in champagne and cocaine, love and lust, dive bars and fine dining rooms, as she learns to navigate the chaotic, enchanting, punishing life she has chosen. The story of a young woman's coming-of-age, set against the glitzy, grimy backdrop of New York's most elite restaurants, in Sweetbitter Stephanie Danler deftly conjures the nonstop and high-adrenaline world of the food industry and evokes the infinite possibilities, the unbearable beauty, and the fragility and brutality of being young and adrift.
Publisher: 2016
ISBN: 9781101875957
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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EljayJohnson
Jul 14, 2019

Oh, where to begin? First, an admission: for about the 1st third of the book, I was suckered in. Danler has some gifts with language and I liked the breaks from the narrative for the 2nd person passages and the stream of consciousness-type unidentified dialogue pieces. I was certainly interested in the premise too: a very young (22) midwest girl moves to New York and begins work in the (as the novel avers) best fine-dining restaurant in the city. Here was my first disappointment - when I'd heard about the book originally, I thought she was breaking into the food business, but she busses tables instead. What began as a mildly interesting awakening to adulthood novel, becomes so pretentious and overblown it was truly laughable. Tess is a terrible bus girl; she becomes obsessesed with the sexy mysterious bartender; she worships at the shrine of the older, intellectual waittress; she drinks excessively and does lots of drugs. And it's written like this is the stuff of the rarest of life experiences and an agonizing and artful existence, instead of a bunch of trite tropes. This has been compared to the wonderful Kitchen Confidential, but it has virtually no food descriptions and those that it has are just more blather. It's been compared to Bright Lights Big City, but it doesn't have that far superior novel's depth and self-criticism.

For reasons beyond me, this book had a ton of buzz even before it was published and has received almost unanimously great reviews by professional. I'm encouraged that there are many negative reviews from actual readers; it seems like a great number of readers are seeing through the ridiculous self-congratulatory pretension.

The final insult was the ending. The inexplicable episode with Howard. The reveal of the revolting connection between bartender Jake and sublime waittress Simone. Danler threw a bunch of crap at the wall to see what would stick.

k
kmobuckeye
Feb 11, 2019

A good story. I love that no one in here is perfect and it shows the true dirty new york underbelly.

d
daysleeper236
Jan 04, 2019

This novel is easy to hate, with its pretentious, poetic writing style and unlikable characters. That said, the second half is better than the first and by the end I couldn't put it down.

s
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.

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bktm2586
Jun 28, 2018

bktm2586 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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daysleeper236
Jan 04, 2019

Other: This novel has many references to excessive, casual drug use.

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