cover image Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Manic Depression

Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Manic Depression

David Leite. Dey St., $26.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-241437-3

Leite is the author of The New Portuguese Table and the Leite’s Culinaria website, so it’s no surprise that the beginning and end of his memoir find him writing about food with infectious gusto and cleverness, giving a glimpse of why his website’s won James Beard Awards. He’s also written on the topic for the New York Times and other venues. Fans of that work will certainly wish there were more culinary stories in this work, but all readers will be touched by his first-generation Portuguese-American upbringing and struggles with his sexual identity as well as his battles to understand and treat his bipolar disorder. He expertly walks the line between sad and funny, making himself the clown and hero of this coming-of-age tale. His firsthand account of mental illness pulls no punches, serving up an honest and open perspective on personal and family issues that are often swept under the rug. Despite Leite playing the leading man, the true stars of the memoir are Leite’s parents, who mirror his passion (his mother) and thoughtfulness (his father) and allow Leite to continually draw the focus of the story back to family and food, love and learning. The ideals that have made Leite’s food writing so successful make this memoir worth a look. (Apr.)