Hotel Bemelmans

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Overlook Press, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 302 pages
"Ludwig Bemelmans was the original bad boy of the New York hotel/restaurant subculture," wrote Anthony Bourdain. Bemelmans also had a reporter's eye for sensory detail and a sharp wit, and his humorous autobiographical tales of behind-the-scenes kitchen life at the Ritz in 1920s and '30s New York never fail to amuse and engage. Hotel Bemelmans brilliantly evokes the kitchens, back passages, dining rooms, and banquet halls of Bemelmans's years at the Hotel Splendide--a thinly disguised stand-in for the Ritz. It's a strange, fabulous, and sometimes terrible universe populated by rogues, con men, geniuses, craftsmen, lunatics, gypsies, tramps, and thieves ... and it's all here in bitingly funny detail. Twenty-four of the tales are vintage Bemelmans, two have never before been published, and the lot is accompanied by seventy-three of Bemelmans's original, charming drawings.

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HOTEL BEMELMANS

User Review  - Kirkus

Though this volume includes the whole of Hotel Splendide and Life Class in so far as those stories dealt with hotel life and personnel, and a number of stories from other volumes, and some which many ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - mgaulding - LibraryThing

This is truly a rollickingly funny book. I guffawed through every chapter. Bemelmans has a very unique "voice", which is very spare prose couple with a biting wit. This is an absolute must-read. And a book I will re-read in the future. Read full review

Contents

Was Born in a Hotel
1
Monsieur Victor of the Splendide
27
The Animal Waiter
34
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Ludwig Bemelmans, April 27, 1898 - October 1, 1962 Ludwig Bemelmans was born on April 27, 1898 in Meran, then Austria. At the age of eight, his parents divorced and he moved with his mother to Regensburg, Germany. He was enrolled into various public and private schools and failed out of most of them. At the age of twelve, unsure of what else to do with him, Bemelmans was apprenticed to an uncle in the hotel business and proceeded to go through many jobs, being repeatedly dismissed. After supposedly shooting and almost killing a waiter, his family gave him the ultimatum of reform school or emigration to the United States. He arrived in America in 1914 with reference letters from his uncle to various hotel managers in New York. Bemelmans obtained a job as a waiter in the Ritz-Carlton, but left that job to join the Army in 1917. In the Army, he worked with German speaking recruits and as a military hospital guard. In 1918, Bemelmans became a naturalized citizen, returning to hotel and restaurant work a year later, eventually opening his own restaurant. In the 1934, at the suggestion of one of his friends, Bemelmans began to write, producing his first children's book, "Hansi." He was best known though, for his series of books about the little french girl, "Madeline," which is still a childhood favorite. "Madeline's Rescue," the second book in the series, won the Caldecott Medal in 1953. His first book for adults was entitled, "My War with the United States" and was a diary of his experiences in the service during World War I. In fact, Bemelmans usually wrote his books based on his life experiences, such as "Life Class" and "Hotel Splendide," about his life as a restaurateur, his travels to Ecuador and Italy appeared in "The Donkey Inside" and "Italian Holiday," and his brief stint as a screenwriter in Hollywood was the basis for "Dirty Eddie." Bemelmans wrote about a book or two a year and was a contributor to Town and Country and Horizon, as well as a cover illustrator for The New Yorker. In his later years, Bemelmans enjoyed some small fame from painting, with some of his work appearing in various galleries. Ludwig Bemelmans died of pancreatic cancer in New York on October 1, 1962.

Anthony Bourdain is the author of the novels Bone in the Throat and Gone Bamboo, in addition to the mega-bestseller Kitchen Confidential and A Cook's Tour. He is the host of the popular television show No Reservations.

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