Jimmy Neurosis. James Oseland. Ecco, 2019. ISBN: 978-0062267368. 293 pages.
Long before James Oseland was a judge on Top Chef Masters, he was a teenage rebel growing up in the pre–Silicon Valley suburbs, yearning for a taste of something wild. Diving headfirst into the churning mayhem of the punk movement, he renamed himself Jimmy Neurosis and embarked on a journey into a vibrant underground world populated by visionary musicians and artists.
In a quest that led him from the mosh pits of San Francisco to the pop world of Andy Warhol’s Manhattan, he learned firsthand about friendship of all stripes, and what comes from testing the limits; both the joyous glories and the unanticipated, dangerous consequences.
With humor and verve, Oseland brings to life the effervescent cocktail of music, art, drugs, and sexual adventure that characterized the end of the seventies. Through his account of how discovering his own creativity saved his life, he tells a thrilling and uniquely American coming-of-age story.
Jimmy Neurosis is essentially about anti-social queerness and resilience. Narrated in an irreverent yet vulnerable voice, the book recalls all the angst of coming of age as a queer person. Echoes of James Dean and Sal Mineo reverberate on every page. Think Portrait of the Artist as a Young Punk. Perspective, that great gift of time, clarifies all the confusion and loneliness of adolescence and in so doing offers hope as well as inspiration.
This book is a brilliantly written bildungsroman and will be enjoyed by any introspective reader.
James Oseland is the editor-in-chief of World Food, a book series launching from Penguin Random House in 2019. Prior to that, he was the editor-in-chief of Saveur, America’s most critically acclaimed food magazine. He has won multiple National Magazine and James Beard Foundation Awards and has been a judge on Celebrity Apprentice, Iron Chef America, and all five seasons of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. He is also the author of Cradle of Flavor, which was named one of the best books of 2006 by the New York Times and Good Morning America. He lives in New York City.