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The Wet and the Dry: A Drinker's Journey [Kindle Edition]

Lawrence Osborne
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Selected as a Top Ten Book of the Year by Dwight Garner, New York Times

A “fearlessly honest account” (Financial Times) of man’s love of drink, and an insightful meditation on the meaning of alcohol consumption across cultures worldwide

Drinking alcohol: a beloved tradition, a dangerous addiction, even “a sickness of the soul” (as once described by a group of young Muslim men in Bali). In his wide-ranging travels, Lawrence Osborne—a veritable connoisseur himself—has witnessed opposing views of alcohol across cultures worldwide, compelling him to wonder: is drinking alcohol a sign of civilization and sanity, or the very reverse? Where do societies fall on the spectrum between indulgence and restraint? 
An immersing, controversial, and often irreverent travel narrative, The Wet and the Dry offers provocative, sometimes unsettling insights into the deeply embedded conflicts between East and West, and the surprising influence of drinking on the contemporary world today.

Now with an excerpt from Lawrence Osborne's latest novel, The Ballad of a Small Player.

Editorial Reviews


“Instantly among the best nonfiction volumes about drinking that we have…Mr. Osborne comes across in The Wet and the Dry as a real human being indeed — a complicated man mixing complicated feelings into fizzy, adult, intoxicating prose.” -New York Times

“In this entertaining travel essay/memoir, [Osborne] combines both of his loves with a combination of sparkling prose and insightful observations…Endlessly fascinating.”- Chicago Tribune

"Mr. Osborne is a superb travel writer, one who, like Evelyn Waugh, can size up a locale at almost a glance. This intoxicating book has political as well as sensual overtones. It’s about how East and West think about alcohol; quite often it’s about one man’s search for his 6:10 p.m. martini in some very unlikely locations."- Dwight Garner, New York Times

“A bracing, brilliant meditation on everything from the universal qualities that make a good bar to the mysteries of vodka…to the pagan worship of Dionysius, an influence still felt in the way we see wine… Relentlessly sharp-minded.”Boston Globe

“Delightfully idiosyncratic.”LA Times

“Entertaining…[Osborne] nimbly parses politics, religion, and the chaotic nature of history itself in relation to drink.”Men’s Journal, a Best Books for Men 2013 selection

"Osborne is a master of the high style." -The Guardian

"Captivating...Stylish and engaging." -Financial Times

"Osborne elicits some profound and harrowing reflections...From Dubai to Beirut, Islamabad to Brooklyn, Osborne’s meditations on fermentation and distillation induce a host of refreshing, taut, timeless unmoorings." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A cosmopolitan and prodigious drinker conducts a tour to selected locales where alcohol flows easily and to others where such spirits are strictly forbidden…Rakish, rich and nicely served.” —Kirkus 

About the Author

A celebrated novelist and journalist, LAWRENCE OSBORNE is the author of six travel narratives and a recent novel, The Forgiven. He has written for the New York Times Magazine, the Wall Street Journal Magazine, the New Yorker, Forbes, Harper's, and several other publications. He lives in New York City and Bangkok.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1405 KB
  • Print Length: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (July 23, 2013)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,757 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In defense of drink. May 28, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Lawrence Osborne is erudite, a fine writer, and an alcoholic, capable of writing sentences that make the reader stop to reread and admire. One example, the first taste of a gin and tonic:"The drink comes with a dim music of ice cubes and a perfume that touches the nose like a smell of warmed grass. Ease returns. It is like cold steel in liquid form." He loves drinking, by himself, in a good bar, or enjoying the comradeship of jolly companions. In defense of alcohol, he traces its ancient history and the idea of new life springing from decay through the process of fermentation.He is aware of the damage that alcohol causes and seems to feel the benefit of enforced periods of abstinence. In fact, when he is asked why he is visiting Muslim countries where drinking is prohibited, he replies that he wants to "dry out." He goes back to drinking as soon as he can, but there is a hint of regret about it: " I sank the vodka into my throat and sang a silent hallelujah....And yet there was a thread of sadness in this return , a nostalgia. That word in Greek simply means, the pain of returning."

So, why does he keep drinking? He drinks because it is part of him, because he likes it, and because he has the freedom to do it. Will he quit? He has no desire or intention to do so. He ends the book by describing how he feels in the morning when he wakes, anticipating his next drink and his own demise: " I was alone ... waiting for a clock somewhere to strike six yet again, as it would every day until the final call of all."
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a love letter to all things related to drink July 26, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book was not quite what I expected from the description I initially read. That description emphasized the sociological and self-reflection aspects of the content, not the travel diary aspect. This is much more a loving caress of alcohol of all sorts as it is consumed worldwide. Though there are reflections on various cultures and how they regard drink, as well as a clear acknowledgement of the author's status as someone who can't stop drinking (with a clear tone, but lack of overt expression of self-loathing at various points - he uses societal condemnation of drinkers to convey this), it's more a verbal caress of his appreciation of wine, beer, and spirits. It's a Valentine to the places and types of drink with a lot of interesting information about the place of alcohol in several cultures.

Ultimately, I think this is the type of book best appreciated by people who also fancy themselves connoisseurs of alcohol and have empathy for his fervent attachment to it. While Lawrence Osbourne has lovely prose and is a very educated, sophisticated and experienced writer, I am simply not the right type of reader for this particular book.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning July 27, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Osborne's fiction is stunning, biting portayals of people, places and their relationships. This book is no different. I read it in one sitting - almost as a long essay.
It is as much travelogue as cultural critique as personal reflection.
His erudition is engaging, never dull or pretentiously drawn. His view of the places-cultures through which he travels or lives is stinging, but beautiful and almost forgiving. His personal reflection is bold, precise and kind. To find such writing is a luxury.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Erudite. Intelligent. Remotely irreverant. Even profound. September 4, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book is a sort of travelogue . . . from Europe, lingering in the Middle East, reaching into the Far East. All strangely woven together within the fabric of; the production, consumption, and subsequent metabolization/digestion of alcoholic beverage.

Strange theme. What I found even stranger is the nature of the author - a paradox of dissipation and, often, sublime prose and insight. Intelligent, well traveled, articulate, alcoholic. And unashamedly so. The book is not a "downer". It's entertaining and intelligent, and gives frequent pause for rereading and moments of contemplation.

Some of the Muslim nations traveled by author Lawrence Osborne are dry (no alcohol) countries. Osborne celebrates the value of true sobriety and embraces the clarity. He also embraces the inevitable next drink as heartily.

At times during this read, one considers becoming a teetotaler - at other times one heads for the kitchen to make and savor a drink, returning to the easy-chair and the book.

Hangovers, blackouts, alcohol-nirvana, enhanced social intercourse, social disasters -- all there and stunningly honest. The only thing missing, I think, is that although Osborne does speak to issues regarding the underbelly of alcohol and alcoholism in society, mere writing just cannot accurately or adequately describe the tragedies of alcohol many of us have been eyewitness to - real careers and real families ruined, grand property damage, spouse abuse, child sex abuse. Right?

Some other reviewers have suggested that this book is merely an entertainment and really has no elevating value. I disagree. I think it is a thought-provoking work, prompting much self-examination, and worthy of reading by any drinker.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A writer's look at drink and sobriety December 13, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I didn't know anything about the author when I started to read this book, but within a few pages, I discovered that A) he likes to drink B) he is a very good writer. Weaving together history and travelogue, THE WET AND THE DRY takes the reader on a "drinker's journey," mostly through places where alcohol is either forbidden or strongly discouraged.

Osbourne's clearly intoxicated with his intoxication, but he doesn't shy away from looking at drinkers--including himself--with a witheringly critical eye. And, while he's clearly not of a mind with those who want to ban alcohol, he gives the impression of presenting their feelings--if not validating their logic--fairly. You will learn a great deal about places where alcohol is banned, and get a few glimpses into places--bars, distilleries, wineries--dedicated to it.

If you are interested in how a writer who likes to drink approaches the subject of drink and sobriety, you will enjoy this book. The tone is of an erudite man talking to you in a bar. After an hour or listening to him, you realize that he might be completely plastered, but you still found him quite engaging.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A self conscious alcoholic who writes beautifully
Perhaps I'm being a little too generous with five stars, but this book is about guilty pleasures. The author indulges with bittersweet regrets, and so too, I read knowing I'm... Read more
Published 18 hours ago by Cuvtixo
3.0 out of 5 stars but some readers will enjoy the drinking-related anecdotes
The Wet and the Dry by Lawrence Osborne is a nonfiction "drinker's journey" that is not exactly the story I expected. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Bookworm76
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
equally deep and funny, makes you thirsty and even happier to be a drinker
Published 19 days ago by jeff
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Interesting ruminations on drink and abstention
Published 1 month ago by Gillis Heller
2.0 out of 5 stars I was amazed to learn that Mr
Drinking as much as he does, or has done, I was amazed to learn that Mr. Osborne apparently functions successfully as a writer. Read more
Published 3 months ago by BCbirder
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring -- if you like to drink
written by one of the greatest observers of modern times
Published 3 months ago by Steek
5.0 out of 5 stars Drink Up!
I will have another Gin & Tonic, please!. After reading this book, I will buy the next round as the war rages onward.
Published 4 months ago by MLMc
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read
At times frenetic, this book nevertheless is filled with amusing anecdotes about finding places to drink in cultures where drinking is prohibited. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Matt C.
4.0 out of 5 stars Different than I expected, but nonetheless a good/quick read
For those who appreciate a seamless mix of liquor, history, culture, and storytelling, this is a fantastic read. Read more
Published 6 months ago by jon blomquist
4.0 out of 5 stars Shaken, Not Stirred
Lawrence Osborne spends a good deal of his travelogue/memoir, THE WET AND THE DRY, sneaking down Middle Eastern alleyways, making furtive eye contact in Beirut and slipping,... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Michael Goodell
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More About the Author

Lawrence Osborne was born in England and lives in New York City. A widely published and widely traveled journalist, he is the author most recently of "The Accidental Connoisseur," "The Naked Tourist" and "Bangkok Days," all published by Farrar Straus and Giroux. He has lived a nomadic life in Mexico, Italy, France, Morocco, Cambodia and Thailand, places that he draws on in his fiction and non-fiction. His short stories have appeared in magazines such as Tin House, Bidoun and Fiction, while his upcoming novel "The Forgiven" will be published by Crown in 2012.

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