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Buy a bottle of hooch, or buy this book? Hmmmmmm....
on November 14, 2005
Frank Kelly Rich, the insuperable genius behind Modern Drunkard Magazine, has collected and edited his timeless works in a form for their most efficient use in "The Modern Drunkard Handbook." For those unfamiliar with MDM, this is an excellent introduction. But make no mistake: magazine loyalists also will not be disappointed, for the arrangement of previous works alone is worth the price of this book, as Rich has performed a yeoman's task of assembling a full arsenal of weapons to keep us all well-oiled. Chapters include excellent advice on "how to throw the best party you'll never remember," how to "execute a proper bender," how to coax bartenders (all drunks themselves) to be on your side against bar owner's and management's interests, how to fight off teetotalling do-gooders and fight back at "America's joyless obsession with sobriety." His classic piece on "how to ace an intervention" is both laugh out loud funny and helpful at the same time.
Rich's self-written publicity flyer describes "The Modern Drunkard Handbook" in contrast: "This is no hoary collection of cocktail recipes or drinking quotes--it is a full-bore, no-holds-barred guide for drinking in the 21st Century." Rich is taking a woozy ham-fisted swipe at the equally good "The Muse in the Bottle: Great Writers on the Joy of Drinking" by Charles A. Coulombe. The books are entirely different, and equally welcome on the same shelf of unapologetic sauce hounds. For where Coulombe invokes memories of drinking in bygone eras where hunting and chivalry were in flower, covering Waugh, Twain, Irving, Belloc and Chesterton in the same collection with Beowulf, Rich invokes memories of drinking in bygone eras in which Stewardesses were deflowered covering Martin, Sinatra, and Gleason. They are all at the Great Wedding Feast at Cana in the sky now, and dickering about the merits of one past boozy era's superiority over another in combating the faux-Puritanism so prevalent now strikes me as simply the source for another jar and a fruitful discussion, not an attack.
Frank Kelly Rich has a prose style that both cuts and astounds. Indeed, at his height he is the equal of the great unsurpassed Florence King in making the literate boozehead laugh out loud. And Rich never breaks character, indeed he is the world's most persuasive sauce hound in his chapters on how to deal with an intervention and issues of drinking and health (hint: it is healthier to drink).
But as an added bonus, the illustrations are priceless. Art Deco, Arte Modern, Belle Epoche, and glorious 50's American Commercial Art are all combined in a deft hand that strikes just the right visual tone to accompany the text. Your art geek friends will love its timeless and retro-moderne look.
This is an excellent book that should have a widespread and proud audience. It is the perfect Chritmas gift for those who drink their Thanksgiving dinner. Get your copy today, and give "The Modern Drunkard Handbook" to all your friends.