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Laurie Woolever Delivers Anthony Bourdain's Final Book, 'World Travel: An Irreverent Guide'

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Laurie Woolever and Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain was planning to write a new travel book with his assistant, Laurie Woolever. He passed away in 2018. However, Laurie Woolever made good on the implicit promise to him to make the book a reality.

"World Travel: An Irreverent Guide" offers readers and fans of Anthony Bourdain's travel shows, acid wit and unique delivery of facts and anecdotes a chance to enjoy his storytelling again.

Highlights from the interview with Laurie Woolever


On the process of creating the book
Tony and I started writing the book together, by which, I mean, we had one very productive meeting. I talk about it in the introduction to the book, where we sat down, and I had prepared a list of every place that he had ever traveled for television and some cases travel that wasn't on television, but I knew that he had spent time. And we went through the list and he said, you know, "yes," "no," "yes," "no," indicating which locations he wanted to include in the book. And for those that he wanted to include in the book, he had this tremendous, very detailed recall, and, in some cases, of places within that location that he definitely wanted to include that had made a big impact on him when he visited. So that was our first, and, unfortunately, only meeting about the book... I was able to record and transcribe that meeting and then use that as the blueprint to move forward after he died.

WooleverandBourdain.Credit CNN.jpg

And when it was determined that I would, in fact, continue the book without him, I had access to all of the transcripts from all of the shows that he made over almost 20 years of making travel television. And of course I had all of his books that he had written. I had everything on audio book and I had this wonderful working relationship with him for almost a decade where we were in constant communication, most times by email, sometimes by text. We would, we did spend time together. So I had my own experiences of traveling to various places with Tony. And I really just immersed myself in all of that material and using the list of locations that he had decided on. I just went through and kind of built the thing chapter by chapter pulling in his wonderful writing that he did for television quotes, things that he said off the cuff. He was someone who spoke almost like he wrote, very precise and very...these wonderful meandering sentences. So I used a lot of that in the book as well.

On using her skills as Anthony Bourdain's assistant to work on the book
There was a lot of juggling of details and schedules. Of course, he had an extensive production company working on the ground and working in advance in New York to make sure that everything was seamless when he was making television. My role was almost kind of air traffic controller talking to the pre-production staff, talking to the staff on the ground in every location, coordinating some times with his family, with his publishing partners, with any number of other people who needed his time and needed him to be in a certain place at a certain time. So I did get very good at handling the details. And that's certainly something that came into play with putting this book together.

On traveling with Anthony Bourdain
I went to Vietnam with Tony in 2014. It was my first time on the ground in Asia, and it was really, really special. We were only in the central part of the country, or we were in the city of Hanoi and a little bit on the outskirts. And I would really like to go back and see Hanoi and see Ho Chi Minh city or Saigon and go up... and really see the rest of the country. It was a place that was so special to him. It was the place that really, I think, first kind of blew his mind with how big the world was and how much of it he had yet to see.

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Yvette Benavides can be reached at bookpublic@tpr.org.