Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip--Confessions of a Cynical Waiter - Steve Dublanica
This book was marketed as a sort of front of the house "Kitchen Confidential." The problem with grading this book by the yardstick of Anthony Bourdain's most famous work of writing is that I have not yet had a chance to get to Bourdain's writing, as I am limited by my own budget and what that budget allows me to get, usually second hand.

With that being said, I feel as though I can, however, compare this book to a blog I used to read a bit, "The Bitchy Waiter."

Waiter Rant is based off of the blog owned by Dublanica, chronicling his personal life to a small degree but comprised mostly of his experiences as a waiter. Or, at least, that's what I can gather from the information on the original blog itself that was in the book.

I quickly got the feeling that this book promised to be more of the same, in line with the very popular blog. That being said, I haven't actually looked at this blog to even see if it still exists, but I have read one of the waiter blogs that exist and I think I get an idea of the genre this book was crafted after.

Let's get the messy bit over with - does this book rise up to the level of the blog (which I will be using as a measuring stick for this book) "The Bitchy Waiter"? No.

There appears to have been an effort made towards making this book feel like reading a blog, complete with the chapters feeling more like blog entries than actual chapters. Each "chapter" feels like a contained entity that leaks very little into one another. And therein lies the first problem with this book - it is a book that is trying to cash in on increased (or, at least, perceived to be increased) readership of blogs. There are two obvious problems with this type of goal in mind, while writing a book - blogs are, by the large, free. Paying for that same experience can be silly, and it makes this sort of a book a gamble for both the publisher as well as the reader.

The other problem lies in the fact that this book really lacks what this sort of an autobiographical work usually delivers - the feeling of moving through someone's life and rising or falling with this person. The chapters vary a bit wildly, and the reader is constantly pulled around between the experiences of being a waiter and the personal life of Steve Dublanica. The reason it feels this way seems to be because the writer and the publisher on this book wanted to have their cake and eat it as well - try something like a sort of book/blog fusion and still try to sink their hands into the shoulders of the autobiographical audience.

What ended up happening here is that we neither particularly get a real good chance to be in the head of a waiter for long enough to get sucked into it and we get a watered down understanding of what Steve Dublanica is like as a person.

It doesn't feel fulfilling and it ends with me frankly wondering where this person's life is going to go - the book seems to circle around Dublanica's luck at getting this book published - a strange experience to read, if only to be the only reason to give it a try - but I felt like telling Dublanica that publishing one book will not magically open all of the doors that were previously closed to him, and I started to tire of this book becoming this sort of an en deux machina for the author and wanted to know just how he's going to build off of this success.

You start being sucked into Dublanica's life, and then you start being given small pieces actually quite useful advice - whether it be how to order something, when to show up to eat or how to PROPERLY treat the waitstaff. If you want more of Dublanica's advice as a waiter to either an aspiring waiter or to a diner, have no fear if you end the main part of the book, as the back of the book contains lists that really include the heart of what I imagine his blog was actually more about - helpful advice from a career waiter.

Which would I have preferred to read - the vignettes of Dublanica's life or the experience of the man? Personally I found Dublanica at his best, as a reader, when he was giving advice and talking about actually working. I am sorry to say that I rushed or ignored much of the interactions that Dublanica had with other staff members or when he talked about his personal life, outside of his interesting career background, prior to working as a waiter. The cosmopolitan night life of New York is not my idea of an entertaining setting for a story, but that may just be me. I just feel as though the experience of drinking pretty alcoholic drinks in New York has been endlessly done before and I have very little interest in reading anything more along those lines.

Bottom line - it felt like much of the high energy of the dining room was absolutely dropped when Dublanica walked out of the restaurant at night and it felt much of the time like an attempt at romancing the autobiographical crowd while grabbing for the blog crowd.

I recommend looking up "The Bitchy Waiter" if you want to read a good blog from the point of view of a really funny guy who happens to wait tables for a living.