Customer Reviews: The Modern Drunkard
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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.
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This masterpiece has an important subtext: Your time is your own. In an era filled with workaholic boss-kissers toiling 24/7 so some corporation's stock can increase a quarter of a point, it's important for us all to remember that the point of hard work, achievement, fame, and fortune, is the enjoyment of life. Rich's message is the same as the recommendations of the most popular self-help gurus of our era-- be present in the current moment, behave in ways that are consistent with your true values, and all else will fall into place. If alcohol helps you reach these goals, then pursue it with unabashed abandon. Don't harm others and keep the harm to yourself to a minimum, and your joy will increase. The humor improves at blood alcohol concentrations above .04, but the writing is crisp and engaging even for the sober.
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on November 8, 2005
This wondrous book is, in part, a collection of material written by Rich over the years for the Modern Drunkard Magazine, which he publishes and edits.

It's more than simply a compilation, however. The material has been grouped and ordered in such a way that once you've swallowed the lot in one long session (which you undoubtably will!) the purpose of your life will be far clearer; to spend it gloriously pie-eyed.

Frank Kelly Rich writes beautifully and with utter conviction in his cause. Mucus-snortingly hilarious it might be, but it's also a serious manifesto that the author preaches with unswerving dedication and bar thumping passion.

First, you owe it to yourself to buy this book. Second, you owe it to your friends to get them one for Christmas, or any time for that matter. Third, and most importantly, you owe it to any miserable prohibitionist kill-joy you might know. The Modern Drunkard is good enough to convince even them to join the good fight.

Rise up, boozehead!
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on December 1, 2005
I laughed out loud reading this book. It is really good. I particularly like all the geeky 1950s photos in the book. As the author reminds us, drinking has been around since the beginning of history ("Jesus turned water into wine, not the other way around"). FDR used to drink Martini after Martini and Winston Churchill drank heavily. Hitler and his ilk of puritans didn't drink and hated it, thinking that it weakened people. Guess who won ? I like the Glossary of drinking terms a lot "go tard", "kamikazee eyes". I found this book in the "humor" section of the bookstore, and it really is a very, very funny book. If you read this and don't laugh out loud, there is something wrong with you. That, or you just need a couple stiff drinks.
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on April 6, 2006
Frank Kelly Rich is what you get when you take Maddox, Tucker Max, and Charles Bukowski and combine them into one glorious book about everything that is great about drinking. This is one of the few books I've read that makes you laugh out loud on almost every page. The buzzwords for boozeheads chapter is nothing short of nuanced genius. And the juicing on the job chapter is one of the more enjoyable pieces you will ever read. Modern Drunkard quietly and continuously puts out some of the best writing on the internet and this book is a testament to the fact that some of most talented writers in America still operate beneath the radar. I couldn't recommend it more.
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on June 27, 2012
Forget for a moment the topic of Frank Kelly Rich's writing. There are those of us who find delight in temulence, but we are outnumbered by the scolding of the puritans who have long dominated our society. Rich must be congratulated on having the audacity to defend alcohol in a nation that once prohibited it and still frowns on it, but instead turn your attention to his skill as a writer.

The obvious parallel is that just as a great composer or musician strings notes together in such a way as to make effective music, the best writers have the talent to assemble words so that when they are read, there's something satisfying and musical about the language. It's a lost art, and I sincerely regard Frank Kelly Rich as one of the finest stylists writing in English today. His command of phrasing and syntax, his "ear" for the way a sentence sounds when read is remarkable, and the only contemporary who comes to mind as a better wordsmith is Geoffrey Wheatcroft. When Rich musters the energy to write in long form, he's better than Fred Reed and as good as Louis Menand.

It's dismaying that prose today seems divided into two opposing camps: those who try and impress the reader with academic gobbledygook, and the chatty style of popular authors. Missing is the style of fine writing that is still fun to read. Rich has an impressive vocabulary and his grammar is perfect, but he's also entertaining and not overly formal.

You may ask why, if this guy's such a great author, isn't he writing about serious topics such as politics or society? Well, maybe he is. Frank Kelly Rich is a comic writer only in the sense that H. L. Mencken was a comic writer, and it may be my imagination, but I believe that Rich deliberately, and with malice of forethought, mimics Mencken. He's also sort of a finely-polished Mary Roach; extravagantly naughty, but with a hard center. He's what a Libertarian would be if a Libertarian had a sense of humor.

This book consists of old reprints from Rich's irregularly-published magazine of the same name, but the social issues - - puritanism vs. freedom - - are as old and perpetual as Original Sin. Sadly, he chose to include only his silly lists and not the magazine's fierce editorials, so I'd recommend a subscription to the magazine instead of this book, but since you can purchase a used copy of this book for less than the price of any magazine (I see that used copies of the Modern Drunkard magazine are appropriately selling for the price of a first edition of T. H. Huxley), perhaps the prudent course would be to purchase this book and a bottle. Do that, and you'll wake up the next afternoon to find that you've subscribed to the magazine.
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on November 8, 2005
When I ordered this I half expected to get yet another drinking book full of hoary cocktail recipes, beer trivia and those drinking quotes you've seen a thousand times before. But I was very pleasantly suprised to find a completely fresh look at how to Live the Life. It covers very nearly every base, from how to throw a REAL party, to dealing with non-drinkers, to going on a bender. And most important of all, it's freaking hilarious. If you like PJ O'Rourke, you're going to love Frank Rich. Reader's tip: Read it while drinking in a bar.
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on October 29, 2005
This is way beyond a drunk etiquette guide - it's a shot-downing, beer shotgunning, bar closing tour through the world of the hard drinking souse. Like Alfred E. Newman got lit and hooked up with Deano, Kerouac and Hemmingway for a bender. The illustations and booze-ad parodies are alone worth buying the book. Also priceless is the guide to drinking on the job, the guide to dodging an intervention and the guide to party crashing. If you don't go out and get smashed after reading this book, join a seminary.
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on January 31, 2008
I think i couldve enjoyed this book more having not sandwiched it between "I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell" and "Look at My Striped Shirt!"- both of which had my stomach aching from laughing so hard.
Here, youll find different little stories and terms for everything alcohol-related - from Types of drinks (with some recipes), Short-stories, terminology one can often encounter when frequenting the bottle, or a local bar etc.. For $10-15, its worth the money, but it'll be a shelf below Beer in Hell and Striped Shirt.
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on January 31, 2008
This is an excellent book but I was a little disappointed to see that it was mostly recycled material. I am a subscriber to the Modern Drunkard magazine and it seems this paperback is a collection of their most amusing articles and such.

Nevertheless, it's absolutely worth purchasing, especially for those of you whom are not aware of the magazine's existance. It is laugh-out-loud funny, informative (believe-it-or-not) and encouraging for those of us who continue to lead a shameless life of debauchery.
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