Sweetbitter

Sweetbitter

Book - 2016 | First edition
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"A lush, thrilling debut--a publishing event already the subject of an article in The New York Times--about a year in the life of a uniquely beguiling young woman, set in the wild, alluring world of a famous downtown New York restaurant. "Let's say I was born when I came over the George Washington Bridge ..." This is how we meet unforgettable Tess, the 22-year-old at the heart of this stunning debut. Shot like a bullet from a mundane past, she's come to New York to escape the provincial, to take on her destiny. After she stumbles into a coveted job at a renowned Union Square restaurant, we spend the year with her as she learns the chaotic, punishing, privileged life of a "backwaiter," on and off duty. Her appetites are awakened, for food, wine, knowledge and experience; and she's pulled into the thrall of two other servers--a handsome bartender she falls hard for, and an older woman whose connection to both young lovers is murky, sensual, and overpowering. These two will prove to be Tess's hardest lesson of all. Sweetbitter is a story about discovery, enchantment, and the power of what remains after disillusionment"--Provided by publisher
"A year in the life of a young woman who comes to New York to discover herself"--Provided by publisher
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781101875940
1101875941
Branch Call Number: Fiction DANLER,S
Characteristics: 356 pages ; 22 cm
Alternative Title: Sweet bitter

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Indoorcamping
Jun 20, 2020

The writing is really good but OMG NO! This is the third novel in a row written by young, super-talented women and by far the worst. It could be me, though. When you read non-fiction for a few decades and decide, hey why not? Fiction is a thing, so let’s go.

Starting with Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney, I thought I was an idiot for not reading fiction, and especially not reading the books with the most buzz. I loved it and thought, okay, let’s try another one.

Next, I read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I liked this one even better than the Rooney one - just a beautifully structured plot, brilliant writing, lots of delicious humor, and really lovable-like-family original characters. I didn’t care that some of it was a little pushed. It was just adorable and I didn’t want to read anything else after a while because I wanted to have those characters in my head for a few days more.

Now this. I felt like I was dropped into a college class consisting of trust fund kids, entitled white girls who feel like they’ve had hardships that are worth writing about and nobody stops them because they have all the money and the good looks and fill up the room with their self-absorption. I tried hard to read it all the way through to the end but I admit I had to rush through the last third because I was just getting angry. I want to slap this author. What a beautiful talent and what a stupid book.

She’s got a memoir out, which, disregarding what I just wrote, I actually look forward to reading. Maybe this format will work for her terrific writing skills. And there is some real hurt that maybe she can put on paper in a beautiful way. That’s what I want to read.

And, more than anything, maybe reading her new memoir will erase the images I have in my head still of fictional drunk, entitled white people that have the luxury of not reaping the consequences of their self-absorbed behavior.

m
maipenrai
Mar 07, 2020

I wanted to like this book, but I never bonded with the protagonist nor anyone else in the novel. If you don't care what happens to anyone in a story, you should probably give up. I stuck with the book to the bitter end, foolish optimist that I am. I don't think my dislike of the book was based on the age difference, as I read many books involving young people. I only saw self-involved, drug / alcohol users who seemed to learn nothing better in the story than how to fold napkins. I always wonder at the end of a book like this what the purpose of the author was... Usually someone finds enlightenment / self-discovery / meaningful relationships.... something that demonstrates why a book is written. Could find none of the above. Terrible, self-indulgent waste of time. Bookwoman & AbbyTabby

k
kmcdouall
Jan 28, 2020

Learning the ropes working in a high-pressure fine dining establishment, Danler invites us to look at the mechanics of relationships, egos, rivalries, and dysfunctional subcultures in the food service industry. Riding the crest of the memoir craze, Danler delivers a serviceable account. But, as with many memoirs, it's difficult to sustain any sense of dramatic narrative, and readers may find themselves wondering what all the fuss is about.

AndreaG_KCMO Dec 09, 2019

I picked up this book after searching for a City of Girls read-alike; halfway through, I still couldn't commit and moved on to another book before returning to this one.

Simone and Jake's characterization bothered me most; they struck me as neither realistic nor empathetic, and the spotty insights into their backstory contributed little to my understanding of their relationship or their hold on Tess, whose actions and motivations I found mildly more comprehensible. All the secondary characters were trying too hard to be gritty and quirky.

In fact, "trying too hard" may be my final word on this one.

e
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

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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