Book Review: Toast To a Tippler

Alcoholism is among the most savage, heart-breaking and destructive of all forms of entertainment. Its awful legacy includes sundered families, highway fatalities and "Arthur 2: On the Rocks." But Kingsley Amis's drunkopedia "Everyday Drinking" renews one's faith in the bottle. How bad can it be to tuck away five glasses of wine and a couple of belts of Scotch on a Saturday night, one wonders, when the King did worse on a Tuesday afternoon (and lasted an above-average 73 years)?

The newly-collected volume of Amis columns and essays about how (and, crucially, why) to drink does not lack for authority. Amis was not just a tippler but a "drink-ist," in the formulation of fellow specialist Christopher Hitchens, who provides an introduction and an (invaluable, to Americans) glossary. (Poteen, Hitchens says, is "an aggressive species of Irish moonshine," while dipsography is "writing about drinking (in reverse of the more common practice)."

I'll go a step further than Hitchens: Amis was an alcoholite. In this (of course) bar-sized book you will find no nonsense about the dangers of crawling into the bottle but brisk advice on how to make yourself comfortable there. There are chapters on the boozer's diet (cut back on solids), a recipe for a morning pick-me-up ("an excellent heartener and sustainer at the outset of a hard day, when you have in prospect one of those grueling nominal festivities like Christmas morning, the wedding of an old friend of your wife's or taking the family over to Gran's for Sunday dinner") and maintenance of the hangover.

This last is helpfully divided by Amis into the P.H. (physical hangover) and the M.H. (metaphysical hangover). Other day-after analysts, Amis astutely notes, "omit altogether the psychological, moral, emotional, spiritual aspects: all that vast, vague, awful, shimmering metaphysical superstructure that makes the hangover a (fortunately) unique route to self-knowledge and self-realization."
source: New York Post



  1. maggie said,

    This looks like a great book. I'll have to add it to my list. It definitely sounds like something much different than the usual story of alcoholism and recovery. I'm reading alive! by Eileen DeClemente right now, and it's an inspiring story, certainly not written to make you "comfortable" inside the bottle.

    on May 23, 2008 at 2:45 PM