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Everyday Drinking: The Distilled Kingsley Amis Hardcover – May 13, 2008
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“These books are so delicious they impart a kind of contact high; they make you feel as if you've just had the first sip of the planet's coldest, driest martini...A reminder of how good all of Amis's writing was about being what he called a "drink-man": smart, no-nonsense and, above all else, charming...you finish this book believing that [alcohol] added more to his life than it took away. [Everyday Drinking] deserves to be rediscovered.” ―Dwight Garner, New York Times
“There has never been a more charming, erudite, eager, generous and devoted lover of drink--to judge by his writing--than Kingsley Amis.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“With spirits, as with movies, there exists a breed of critic who both illuminates and entertains and, consequently, is worth reading. Kingsley Amis falls into that category -- a great comic wit, Amis' writings (both fiction and non) about alcohol are among the very best.” ―Washington Times
“Back in print at last, Bloomsbury having gathered into one delightful volume under the title "Everyday Drinking" that's now hitting bookstore shelves. It is essential reading for any literate bibber.” ―Wall Street Journal
“It's refreshing to see an artifact from a more hedonistic era….Amis' quips and gripes about noisy pubs, vodka drinkers, wine snobs, teetotalers, and hangovers grow more delicious with age.” ―Booklist
“Among Amis's literary output the journalism on drinking, recently collected and published with an introduction by (who else?) Christopher Hitchens, is in no way the least achievement because it is a reminder and a record of a culture that is incrementally slipping away….Like a bottle of Laphroaig, this book is full of good things, many of them familiar though others are more intriguing.” ―New Humanist
“Studded with hilarious observations and much good advice. ” ―Kyle Smith
Top Customer Reviews
The book comprises three Amis titles. "On Drink" (1972) is a kind of informal treatise on drinking. "Every Day Drinking" (1983) is a collection of columns. "How's Your Glass?" (1984) is a set of drinking quizzes.
Though Amis provides a good bit of technical information and asks readers to produce no end of less-than-necessary information in the quizzes (he asks us to name a liqueur made with naartjies, for example), the main pleasures of "Everyday Drinking" are to be found in Amis's description of the drinking *life* and in his sublimely crotchety sense of humor.
Some people will object that Amis's repeated grousing about music in pubs is quaint, reactionary, and ridiculous. Such people are entitled to their opinions, of course, just as the rest of us are entitled to point out that such people are either drug-addled hipsters or ill-bred morons.
For those of you out there who are neither drug-addled hipsters nor ill-bred morons, here are a few choice sips of Amis:
* On the necessity of having a refrigerator to oneself: "Wives and such are constantly filling up any refrigerator they have a claim on, even its ice compartment, with irrelevant rubbish like food.Read more ›
I am not particularly sure that Amis is utterly scientific on the topic of drink (who is?), but he is utterly funny. And, for my two cents, he is funniest when he returns (again and again) to "The Wine Problem." As he mutters in his curmudgeonly way, there is no actual problem with wine itself: the problem is with inviting guests for dinner, who all arrive expecting wine AS A MATTER OF COURSE. If you don't serve them wine (even "plonk," British English for "rotgut"), you instantly lose social status. And Amis offers other examples: having dinner at an Indian restaurant featuring fiery curries, or at a Thai restaurant -- is this really the time to play the Wine-Snob Card? Or would you enjoy your dinner much much more if it were accompanied by beer? (M.F.K. Fisher would be nodding her head from A Better World.)
My own sainted mother once worked her own way around "The Wine Problem," when she realized that one of her guests (A Wine Snob) would drink only red wines -- and, thirty minutes before dinner -- she had only white wines. Well, she put red food-coloring into the white wine, and the great Wine Snob praised his delicious drink!
Just as perceptive: Amis divides the world into those who prefer cocktails, and those who prefer wine. He places himself emphatically in the first group, although he freely admits to chugging that da**ed wine from time to time ("particularly when dinner looks to be a long way off, and there is nothing else available.Read more ›
Reading ED raises this question: Why bother to buy a mere informative guide about wines and spirits when Amis gives you plenty of information but packaged with great common sense and a comic novelist's droll narrative skill. For example:
"General Principle 1: Up to a point (i.e. short of offering your guests one of those Balkan plonks marketed as wine...), go for quantity rather than quality. Most people would rather have two glasses of ordinary decent port than one of rare vintage. On the same reasoning, give them big drinks rather than small...Serious drinkers will be pleased and reassured, unserious ones will not be offended, and you will use up less chatting-time going round to recharge glasses."
At the same time, ED can be read as a cautionary text, in which sophisticated pleasure becomes excess. As Christopher Hitchens observes in the introduction: "...the world now knows what Kingsley's innumerable friends had come to realize, which is that booze got to him in the end, and robbed him of his wit and charm as well as his health." To this reader of LUCKY JIM, this also seemed the sad and likely fate of Professor Dixon.
Nonetheless, ED is recommended for the drinking man (and woman) who seeks a specialist's informed pleasure in what is surely the world's primary (public) leisure activity.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Anything by Kingsley Amis is entertaining and worth reading. This is pretty repetitive, a carelessly selected assortment of periodical pieces. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Semon Strobos
The intro left me with high expectations and the book did not meet them. May as well be written by a drunk Winston Churchill that never ran a country.Published 13 months ago by C. Jackson
Truly enjoyed this book, but a large portion of his writing is about drinks or experiences that would be hard to relate to in america. But still a fantastic read.Published 20 months ago by Jacob M