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David Leite Notes On A Banana

April 18, 201710 min
Two time James Beard Award-winner David Leite brings a dash of Anthony Bourdain, Augusten Burroughs, and Kay Redfield Jamison to his memoir, NOTES ON A BANANA: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Manic Depression (Dey Street; April 11, 2017). Born into a devoutly Catholic, food-crazed family of Azorean immigrants in 1960s Fall River, Massachusetts, David had a childhood that was the stuff of sitcoms. But what no one knew was that this smart-ass, determined dreamer with a vivid imagination also struggled with the frightening mood swings of bipolar disorder. To cope, “Banana,” as his mother endearingly called him, found relief and comfort in food, watching reruns of Julia Child, and, later as an adult, cooking for others. It was only in his mid-thirties, after years of desperate searching, did he finally uncover the truth about himself, receive proper medical treatment, and begin healing. Throughout the narrative, David takes the reader along on the exhilarating highs and shattering lows of his life, with his trademark sense of humor: We watch as he slams the door on his Portuguese heritage in favor of blond-haired, blue-eyed WASPdom; pursues stardom with a near-pathological relentlessness; realizes he’s gay and attempts to "turn straight" through Aesthetic Realism, a cult in downtown Manhattan; battles against dark and bitter moods, delights in his twenty-plus year relationship with Alan (known to millions of David’s online readers as “The One); and shares the people, dishes, and events that shaped him. NOTES ON A BANANA is at once a tender look at growing up, a candid take on the power of self-acceptance, and an unflinching tale of the hell of mental illness. Its pages are brutally honest and necessary, creating a sense of universality and enduring hope that today’s readers need more than ever.

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