I’m out of my mind with excitement! Here’s the brand-spanking new cover for my soon-to-be-published memoir, Notes on a Banana. I’m in love, love, love, I tell you.
It was a long process to create the cover. I saw the first iteration way back in June. Since then, the extremely talented art director Mumtaz Mustafa worked closely with hand-lettering savant Joel Holland, and a week or so ago, this neon beauty finally hit all the online bookstores the day my memoir was ready for pre-order. (Hint, hint.)
I’d like to thank everyone at Dey Street Books for making this happen and for graciously letting this old graphic design student have some input. (Yes, I had a life before I was in food, which you’ll discover when you read the book. And yes, that’s a not-so-subtle hint.)
I’ve heard from a lot of folks on Facebook and Twitter that they love the design. Although these comments are inevitably followed by, “But what does it mean?” I don’t think I’m dropping too much trou by saying that ever since I was a kid, Momma Leite would write a note on a banana each morning and place it at my spot on the kitchen snack bar. (My favorite breakfast was peanut butter and banana on toast.) She’d write messages to me such as “Have a good day!” and “We love you!” and “Do good in school!” and even “Take out the trash!” (The woman can’t live without her exclamation points.)
On Mother’s Day 2014, I awoke to find this banana at my same spot at our same snack bar covered in the same faux marble Formica that my father had installed in 1966.
When I posted the picture on social media, I got a tsunami of responses. People loved the idea of writing on a banana to someone they loved. That was when everything fell into place: the title of the book, the artwork for the cover, the theme of the memoir. It even helped explain why my mother’s nickname me for growing up was “Banana.”
At the risk of going rogue and telling you too much, here’s the copy that now appears on bookstore websites. It gives you a good idea of the story. (And if you read it closely, you’ll discover The One’s real name.)
The stunning and long-awaited memoir from the beloved founder of the James Beard Award-winning website Leite’s Culinaria—a candid, courageous, and at times laugh-out-loud funny story of family, food, mental illness, and sexual identity.
Born into a family of Azorean immigrants, David Leite grew up in the 1960s in a devoutly Catholic, blue-collar, food-crazed Portuguese home in Fall River, Massachusetts. A clever and determined dreamer with a vivid imagination and a flair for the dramatic, “Banana,” as his mother endearingly called him, yearned to live in a middle-class house with a swinging kitchen door like the ones on television, and fell in love with everything French, thanks to his Portuguese and French-Canadian godmother. But David also struggled with the emotional devastation of bipolar disorder. Until he was diagnosed in his mid-thirties, David found relief from his wild mood swings in cooking, Julia Child, and a Viking stove he named “Thor.”
Notes on a Banana is his heartfelt, unflinchingly honest, yet tender memoir of growing up, accepting himself, and turning his love of food into an award-winning career. Reminiscing about the people and events that shaped him, David looks back at the highs and lows of his life: from his rejection of being gay and his attempt to “turn straight” through Aesthetic Realism, a cult in downtown Manhattan, to becoming a writer, cookbook author, and web publisher, to his twenty-three-year relationship with Alan, known to millions of David’s readers as “The One,” which began with (what else?) food. Woven throughout these stories are the dishes David loves—the tastes that led him to happiness, health, and success.
A blend of Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind, the food memoirs of Ruth Reichl, Anthony Bourdain, and Gabrielle Hamilton, and the character-rich storytelling of Augusten Burroughs, David Sedaris, and Jenny Lawson, Notes on a Banana is a feast that dazzles, delights, and, ultimately, heals.
In the coming months, I’ll keep you posted on the marketing, publicity, audiobook (which I’ll be recording), and scheduled events and readings for the book.
All this talk about bananas has me hungry. So, while I make myself a “peabot and blana sandwich,” you go and get your preorder on. (And when you’re done, email your purchase confirmation and street address to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll send you a signed bookplate when the book is published. Just remember to say whom you want the book inscribed to.)