“A terrific contribution to understanding not only the experience of bipolar illness but the experience of life: warm, funny, poignant, and human.”—Kay Redfield Jamison, author of An Unquiet Mind
The long-awaited, laugh-out-loud memoir from the beloved founder of the James Beard Award-winning website Leite’s Culinaria—a candid, courageous, and deeply poignant story of family, food, mental illness, and sexual identity.
Born into a devoutly Catholic, food-crazed family of Azorean immigrants in 1960s Fall River, Massachusetts, David Leite 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 desperately searching, that he finally uncovered the truth about himself, received proper medical treatment, and began healing.
Throughout the narrative, David takes the reader along on the exhilarating highs and shattering lows of his life, with his trademark wit and 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 readers as “The One”); and shares the people, dishes, and events that shaped him.
A blend of Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind, the food memoirs by Ruth Reichl, Anthony Bourdain, and Gabrielle Hamilton, and the hilarious storytelling of Augusten Burroughs, David Sedaris, and Jenny Lawson, Notes on a Banana is a feast that dazzles, delights, and, ultimately, heals.