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Everyday Drinking: The Distilled Kingsley Amis Hardcover – May 13, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The drinks revival is nearly complete—it’s now possible to be as insufferable about beer and spirits as about wine—but the revival seems to come with a warning label: enjoy the drinks, but don’t drink too much. In the face of that, it’s refreshing to see an artifact from a more hedonistic era: Amis knew the finer points of booze as well as anyone, but he never apologized for enjoying its effect, either. This reissue, appropriately introduced by Christopher Hitchens, collects Amis’ three drinks books: On Drink (1973), an indispensable primer; Every Day Drinking (1983), a browseworthy collection of newspaper columns; and How’s Your Glass? (1984), a dispensable collection of quizzes. Some of the advice is timeless—Amis, who could presumably afford better, advocated strategic deployment of cheap booze to save money—and some is not: liquor-store shelves look so different now that some passages are best read for historical perspective. But good humor never spoils, and Amis’ quips and gripes about noisy pubs, vodka drinkers, wine snobs, teetotalers, and hangovers grow more delicious with age. --Keir Graff


“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, 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


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; Reprint edition (May 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596915285
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596915282
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.2 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #733,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

103 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Asher Waxwing on May 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
If you're interested in reading about the drinking life, where better to start than with a collection of writings on drink by Kingsley Amis, introduced by Christopher Hitchens? Though it weighs in at a mere 3.2 ounces, "Everyday Drinking" offers up enough drinking experience to float an aircraft carrier.

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.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Geoff Puterbaugh on November 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In a strange sort of way, Kingsley Amis does for drink what Anthony Bourdain does for food: with enormous humor and joy in life, both authors just say "go for it." It is probably no coincidence that they both loathe vegetarians, especially vegans.

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.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 28, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Kingsley Amis writes in the breezy style of a good English gent, on a subject about which he has much knowledge and even more experience--boozemanship. This series of short articles provides an authoritative statement on what to drink and how to drink it, along with with a hefty jigger of Amis's profoundly hilarious sense of understatement.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ethan Cooper VINE VOICE on February 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I've read LUCKY JIM, Amis's hilarious novel about Jim Dixon, a marginal associate professor at a second-rate university who is aggrieved by a pompous boss, has a funny scheming mind, and enjoys a drink or three. Well, EVERYDAY DRINKING suggests that the perspective of the fictitious Dixon might have come easily to Amis, since his voice in ED shows a sensitivity to pomposity (wine snobs), amusing party stratagems (how to serve inferior wines while presenting yourself as a wine expert), and great practical knowledge about the complete drinking experience, which ranges from stocking your bar to tending your hangover to periodic abstinence.

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.
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