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Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up Paperback – August 28, 2012

4 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Caren Osten Gerszberg is a freelance writer and co-founder of the blog Drinking Diaries. Gerszberg’s articles have appeared in The New York Times, Travel & Leisure, National Geographic Traveler, Parents, and other national magazines and websites. She has also had a regular column, “Mom U,” about her daughter’s college admission experience, at NYTimes.com.

Born and raised in New York, Gerszberg graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, going on to earn a dual master's degree in French and journalism at New York University. Her career in publishing began with a summer job at French Vogue in Paris, which paved the way for a full-time position at Mademoiselle magazine in New York. After four years as a research editor at Rolling Stone, Gerszberg launched her freelance career, and also became the New York correspondent for French Glamour, writing a monthly column in French.

Gerszberg has taught feature writing as an adjunct professor at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. A passionate traveler, she lives in Westchester County, New York, with her husband, three children, and two dogs.

Leah Odze Epstein, co-founder of the blog Drinking Diaries, is a young adult and adult fiction writer. She has worked as a news assistant at The New York Times, an adjunct professor of writing at Baruch College, and an assistant editor at One World/Ballantine Books.

Epstein has written book and movie reviews for publications including Publisher’s Weekly and Bookpage, and has worked as a freelance editor. She currently blogs about women and drinking for The Huffington Post, and some of her poems can be found on the website Literary Mama.

Born and raised in Bethesda, Maryland, Epstein now lives in Westchester County, New York, with her husband and three children.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press (August 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580054110
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580054119
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #668,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Theresa K. Read on September 16, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
From Whitman and his early temperance novel to Hemingway and Steinbeck's shilling of Ballantine Beer, a lot has been said and written about male authors and their perverse affair with liquor. With Drinking Diaries, women writers give us their side of the story. This is simply a fascinating read. It is refreshing to review the struggle for moderation written about such utter honesty. It is impossible not to recognize yourself in these pages. Thanks Leah and Caren and contributors for this candid look at how drinking affects creative women.
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This book hits the spot! Drinking as a metaphor? Drinking as a relationship impediment or stimulator? Drinking as escape? Drinking as entertainment? Drinking as a habit? Not drinking as a response to family experiences? I loved this book because it made me think, was entertaining, had stories I could relate to and made me tearful at others. As a grown woman with three kids, who has had many and varied experiences as a drinker and abstainer, as well as a lover of literature and writing of all I kinds, I found this book easy to read and poignant. A great hostess gift INSTEAD of a bottle of wine for those who don't partake, and a book to have around the house when daughters (in particular) are reaching that age when drinking becomes a part of their lives. I highly recommend it!
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All of these stories are heartfelt and effectively written, but I was disappointed in their repetitive quality. Many are structured around the substance abuse recovery narrative that's such a ubiquitous part of contemporary culture. Maybe it's a good thing that we (especially women) no longer pretend there's anything romantic or glamorous about drinking and drugging, or that getting high is a path to enlightenment.

A couple of the pieces argue that alcohol can ease social anxiety and brighten the end of the day. At least one complains about the guilt imposed by censorious teenage offspring who are being scared straight at school. But (other than an odd piece by Jane Friedman) no one puts much passion into the pro-indulgence viewpoint. From my perspective, only the essay by Asra Nomani had something genuinely new to say. She's an American Muslim trying to find a path through what she perceives as the intolerance and hypocrisy of current Muslim attitudes towards alcohol. Really worth reading.
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This seemed like a pretty safe collection of stories from known authors. I was hoping for more introspection from the authors. I need more words apparently and here they are: Vote and Happy Halloween.
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Format: Paperback
This collection contains smart, heartfelt essays from terrific writers like Daphne Merkin and Joyce Maynard--and some other newbies that you may not know (but will WANT to). Far from a collection of sob stories about alcoholism, these essays open the subject of women and drinking WAY up: the joys, the silliness, the sex, the fights, the pleasures. I related, and, I'll admit, it caused me to look at my own drinking in a slightly more clear eyed way.
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I first read an excerpt from this book through More magazine. Jaqueline Michard wrote honestly about her humiliation with being given a field sobriety test one night after dinner with friends. Her mistake? (Besides a little to much vino.)Speeding. Drinking Diaries is a collection of essays written by authors who have had some kind of love/hate relationship with alcohol, whether childhood or adulthood. Many of the authors I related to as if they were writing a story similar to my own. Others who grew up with alocholic parents, that I didn't relate to, I empathized with their plights and understood how it altered their views on alcohol. I would recommend this book to anyone who has that "dance with drinking" that we just can't shake. The editors should be congratulated on their grouping of these essays. Great job!
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I really enjoyed this book. The stories were so true-to-life. It was great to hear about drinking from a woman's perspective. Each story was different, and while I couldn't identify with all of them, I could certainly empathize with each woman's story. I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This book is the worst. Several female writers were asked by the two main authors/editors to contribute their take on alcohol from a woman's perspective, and the result is this insipid melange of random musings that vaguely touches the subject matter. No format whatsoever is involved - whether they love, hate, had a good relationship or bad with alcohol, the writers were invited to throw their respective hats into the ring and we all suffer the consequences. Many of the short stories (and by short, I mean short - quite a few are merely a couple of pages long) are so annoyingly affected to the point that you feel sure someone is pulling your leg and that no one could possibly be so pretentious, but alas these authors really are!

The most abhorrent story by far is "The Days of Wine and Seltzer." This is writing that goes above and beyond ostentatious, with the author blabbing non-stop about skiing and trips to Aspen ("the summer we joined Rob's father in Aspen (as Rob had done for years)," fancy liquors, spur of the moment trips to Niagara Falls or cross country, "sunset parties on the terrace," and comparing herself (a journalist for the now-defunct Spy magazine) to Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table for crying out loud! Also, the story starts out with her explaining how relatively early in her marriage, the drinking both she and her husband did got fairly out of control and, not to mince words, quite alcoholic. When her husband later decides to go on the wagon, not only is she not terribly supportive, but she whines about how this effects her and her social life and how she really wishes he would just drink again. So we have a little co-dependence mixed in with genuine alcoholism, and a hefty serving of denial for good measure.
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