So after a week of work and work, I was finally able to finish Eddie Huang’s memoir: Fresh Off the Boat. Last time I wrote about it, I was like a little more than half-way done.
Now after having read the entire thing (even the acknowledgements, which are ultra inside-jokey but not as alienating as you’d expect), I overall enjoyed the read, however I still have my issues with it… mostly from a book-reading standpoint. But I mean, I can’t really front since Huang isn’t really a writer.
My issue was that the entire second half felt like it was jetted through. The complaints I had with the first half (too much time spent on small, non-consequential narratives) are completely absent on this half, however there might not have been enough of those type of stories. Stuff like going to law school and starting his own streetwear brand Hoodman kinda felt random. The motivations, in real life, were there obviously, but in the FOB book narrative his motivations were somewhat absent.
I was, honestly, just a little bored by his law school and streetwear sections, but as soon as his idea for Baohaus kicks in, the heart of the second half really shows. CC: Baohaus craiglist ads, hotboxing the entire restaurant.
Let’s be real, though, Eddie Huang’s strengths lie in his insights, which border usually on poetic and honest.
“When foreigners cook our food, they want to infuse their identity into the dish, they have a need to be a part of the story and take it over. For some reason Americans simply can’t understand why this bothers us. ‘I just want to tell my story?!? I loved my vacation to Burma! What’s wrong with that?’ It’s imperialism at work in a saute pan.”
That paragraph is brutal, and if out-of-context might lend itself to borderline kill-whitey racism, but as part of the FOB narrative it hits like someone ripping a veil to shreds. That’s one of Huang’s strongest paragraphs.
The Food Network competition section is also hilarious, and his footnote about Guy Fieri is too funny. Guy gets a lot of shit from everyone, including me honestly, but that dude knows his shit. He would just rather concern himself with donkey sauce than other things. That’s cool.
I will say this about Eddie Huang, his personality is a package. What I mean by that is reading his book isn’t enough of a taste to fully appreciate Huang. Dude is vibrant and meant to be seen and spoken to. His voice is meant to be heard because it’s the way he says things that makes him great. Probably why he tried being a comedian… great at timing.
I recommend, besides reading his book, to watch his show, interviews, etc. Just like Tony Bourdain– you can’t fully appreciate him by just reading the memoir: his personality is visual.