NPR commentator Raskin’s laugh-out-loud memoir yields surprising insights about belatedly growing up in his mid-30s.
The San Francisco-based author earned an MBA from Wharton, mastered the trombone, become fluent in Japanese and built a successful career in business, but he had never been faithful to a girlfriend. He cheated on women he thought he loved and developed an addiction to online dating and one-night stands. After realizing that this behavior was related to his feelings of depression, he joined a recovery group. His sponsor asked him to abstain from dating for 90 days and to write letters detailing his past sins to someone he saw as a godlike figure. He settled on a longtime object of his fascination: 94-year-old billionaire noodle-maker Momofuku Ando. Writing things down led Raskin to the understanding that his sexual impulses were sparked by conflicts with men, usually co-workers or his father, and that he compensated for feelings of failure by having trysts. Layering his memoir with vignettes about sushi chefs, young-adult graphic novels, Japanese reality-TV shows, embarrassing moments in his Long Island childhood and conversations with many of the women he dated, the author chronicles his life in a creative and comprehensive manner. Ando’s story is an important element as well: Having read all of the noodle-maker’s autobiographies, Raskin threads details from them throughout the book, along with some of his famous sayings (“Peace follows from a full stomach,” etc.). After repeated unsuccessful attempts to set up an interview with Ando, the author embarked on a transatlantic pilgrimage to meet him with no appointment. Regardless of the outcome, he recognized that the point of such a choice—indeed, the point of any decision—was really the power of knowing exactly what he wanted.
Engaging portrait of a journey of self-discovery, leading to the liberating knowledge that joy and freedom often come from accepting limitations.