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on February 1, 2013
This book is so beautifully written, and although it's about life in bars, it's also about life in general. Tears came to my eyes on more than a few occasions as I read Drinking with Men, and I got my fair share of chuckles from it, too.

When I reached the end, I not only felt as though I knew Rosie Schaap really well, I felt as though I loved her, too, just like I love many of the people I've hung out with at bars over the years--for their insights, for their honesty, and because they've been kindred spirits.

This is a book that I'll re-read over and over again. Sort of a bar-goers Bible if you will.
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on March 17, 2013
There are so may ways most of us can identify with in Rosie's journey - drinking with men is simply a metaphor for how women find their place in the universe. I love that she uses the bar culture as a common equalizer of the sexes. It's not the pick-up bar or the sports bar she frequents, but the neighborhood bar where you have to humble yourself to your core and set your soul vulnerable. Believe me, the book is not this esoteric. Rosie leads us to the place better than group therapy, a place - when stumbled upon - can keep us sane.
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on January 29, 2013
Author Rosie Schaap really connects with her readers through thoughtful, often hysterically funny, and honest reflections of her time spent in some very important watering holes throughout her life.

I too, spent much of my younger days on bar stools -- I married my bartender for goodness sake. And it's only after reading her book that I realize how central these places were to the various chapters of my life. Throughout my reading of Drinking with Men, I often had to pause and consider the impact of the people, the communities, and even the tragedies that occured in and around the places I frequented. They all helped shape who I am and how I preceive the world around me. I realize that this is part of what is missing from my life now, as I have no place - aside from home and work and friends houses - to call my own. And like Schaap, it's not so much about the booze, it's not about nurturing alcoholism, but about finding a place where you fit in. At least sort of. For a time.
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VINE VOICEon February 2, 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a man, and a writer and someone who enjoys a drink I'm happy to add this little book to my library of books on bars. Seriously. Here Rosie Schaap's memoir will sit alongside Pete Hamill's A Drinking Life, J.R. Moehring's Tender Bar, and Malachy McCourt's several titles. As a look at the intricacies of the bar culture, Drinking With Men displays a joyful abandon and a new point of view. It arrives at a few important conclusions regarding the unwritten rules of bar conduct that guarantee safe passage. But there's more here than that alone. Ms. Schaap has considerable skills as a storyteller and overall, the book lurches, leaps, struggles and dances along on her search for a sense of belonging, for home in all it's senses. But one. Permanence.

If, as she points out in a pivotal chapter, self-reinvention has its price, then indeed this is the price she acknowledges with little avoidance. Anyone who has ever felt like an outsider can certainly relate to envying those who can move as she does, effortlessly through different social milieu, even if the label of outsider was self applied. There is a great deal to consider in these pages about one's self-worth and self-knowledge. Especially a sense of one's connection with the world around them and the constant need for varying depths of communication. Give and take.

In the end, for me, it was very clear that Ms. Schaap has certainly found a substantial home, if not in her choice of drinking haunts, then in the community of writers. I look forward to her next work, especially her fiction, which I hope will not be long in coming.
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VINE VOICEon April 8, 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
You don't need to have a fondness for taverns or drinking to enjoy this book. Drinking with men can be summed up in one word: community.
Religion is nothing more than a community of like minded people..."a family." We all search for our own community, and Rosie found her community among those who trade money for shots of vodka and a basket of fries. Perhaps I loved this book because I've always romanticized taverns - having worked in plenty in my younger days - I know taverns function like a family; sometimes dysfunctional, sometimes stressful, almost always supportive.
And so, if you're a reader who enjoys stories filled with spirited characters and zig zag journeys, I've no doubt you'll enjoy Drinking with Men.
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on January 31, 2013
Rosie Schaap's "Drinking With Men" perfectly captures that combination of electric-comforting-elegant-underbelly that is a life as a bar regular. The book is an absolute pleasure to read, and on many levels, too. Schaap is both a poet and expert BS-sniffer, a real latter-day New York City dame. Her writing is not unlike soccer, the sport she loves: equal parts elegance and kicks, smooth and sharp. It's filled with wonderful stories that give insight both into Schaap's story and character and also offer a refreshingly positive view of bar culture. There are reasons why people become regulars and, as Schaap illustrates, alcoholism isn't necessarily one of them. The intriguing tension of the book is that while Schaap has forged deep and lasting relationships and downed many pints of Guinness with friends and strangers she remains, quite literally, an outsider, too: the teenager reading tarot cards in the Metro North bar car, the American abroad and, as the title suggests, the woman among men. What does it mean to belong? To this reader, that is the central and most affecting question asked throughout the profoundly entertaining, expertly-written "Drinking With Men."
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on July 4, 2013
I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. I bought it because I heard Rosie Schaap reading from it and enjoyed her wry sense of humor. She is a terrific writer, and that made the book much more readable than it otherwise might have been. The acknowledgements at the end of the book pay tribute to her husband, who died in 2010, and I suspect that if I hadn't known this, I might have been less impressed by this writer's tales of bars she has known. The stories might have been too superficial had I not known that she was also dealing with a sick (and formerly estranged) husband. Being British, the concept of a bar with 'regulars' is not so unusual - that's basically a pub. But the writer is unusual in her uninhibited enjoyment of the bar culture - one that most of her women friends don't share. The question of alcoholism is skated over. Maybe you have to be a New Yorker...
Not recommended for people with a drink problem who are trying to beat it.
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Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Finding a sense of community and camaraderie, a place where "everyone knows your name," if you will, is the primary theme of Drinking with Men: A Memoir.

The author leads the reader through her own unique journey with bars, beginning with the impact that a particular railroad car had on her as a teen, and then we saunter along with her in her Deadhead years, a time of youthful excesses in a number of places almost forgettable except for the drinking.

Still very young, she first experiences a pub in Dublin that set the tone for many to follow. And the bars during her college years left their mark on her and would become part of her bar identity for all that followed, from New York to Montreal.

A sense of family and community seemed to dominate the appeal, lending itself to why she chose a particular bar. Sometimes a bar would become hers almost serendipitously...and then would belong to her for years. A sense of being a regular was a guiding force in showing up at a particular bar several nights a week. Finding old friends in new places would also lend that special connection, that celebratory reminiscence that would coalesce and anoint the place...until another would take over as The Bar of Choice at the moment.

I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative voice of the author, as she rambled on, not necessarily in a linear fashion, sharing tidbits about her life and the people in her journey, inhabitants of the bar culture where she took up residence. A quest for family, friends, and a feeling of refuge would heighten the experiences more than the actual drinking. I am familiar with that quest and have enjoyed a few favorite "watering holes" over the years. As I read about the bars in this memoir, I could almost feel them and sense them. The author made them real for me. Five stars.
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Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Drinking with Men: A Memoir is presented as a memoir, and perhaps in a strict sense it is one. Yet in some ways this is more than a memoir. Perhaps a cultural anthropologist might draw conclusions about American culture, bar culture or both from these pages. The author has filled each chapter with observations and opinions. She even, sometimes, includes opinions about her opinions.

The author has a way of discussing things that she did very openly and honestly. I am not certain what makes her want to reveal so much of herself. There may be more than a little narcissism and self-deprecating exhibitionism in her, a la' Woody Allen. But that is perhaps the aspect of this book that most held my interest. And I took my time with this one, reading a chapter then taking days to reflect on what she wrote.

The main structure of the book centers each chapter on a bar. As the author recounts her life story, she outlines how each bar fits into that part of her life. And of course, she shares her feelings about how she perceived each bar, how she felt others saw them, and what she thought that said about bars and people in general.

While many of her observations are interesting, and her personal history is engaging, there is some indefinable connection between those two things that I felt was missing from this book. Even weeks after finishing it, I am still trying to decide how I feel about it.

As a side note, some extremely serious consequences of drug and alcohol use are dealt with very superficially. Those include violence against women, violence in general and alcoholism. She does touch upon these topics, and it's clear this book is not about alcoholism. I get the sense the author does not consider herself an alcoholic by any stretch. Others may interpret her experiences differently. But if the author really felt like those problems were not pervasive in bar culture, she should have made a better case or done a better job of excluding them from the beginning.

CONCLUSION

This is an interesting and engaging book that definitely has a wide and diverse audience. The author has clearly tried to hold nothing back, and that opens one up to being judged unfairly. So I admire her courage. But ultimately, it seems like the author was pulled into bar culture by impulse, and then spent a good deal of time justifying why after the fact. I never got a sense that the author really looked deeper into herself to explore, and then reveal, what she was really seeking in the first place. So while there are a lot of observations in these pages, the questions I was most curious about remain unanswered.
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Schnaap is a seductive narrator with a subtle, slightly sarcastic wit. While this book is undeniably set in the world of bars and drinkers, the central message concerns the comraderie and stimulation of a world designed for talking to strangers. In each chapter, she shares a stage of her life and the places she found in which to comfort herself and hone her identity.

While she often finds particular friends and companions, most important is the craic. Craic is an Irish term, clearly learned in a Dublin bar, meaning discourse, conversation, banter. "It must flow freely, it must have rhythm, and it must not be dominated by a single participant.". At the same time she must face the fact that bar culture is essentially male. She wants to be one of the guys, but in subsequent chapters, she also finds herself seeking affectionate relationships. The people she encounters are primarily described with clarity and affection. I enjoy her quick eye and empathetic heart. She is able to find quirky interst in the most improbable of people.

"In succeeding centuries...people of all classes made increasing use of drinking establishments as marketplaces for ideas.". This is a bewitching concept. While I have never found this to be the case, I cede the point that I have never really looked for the right place. I have a problem with the glorifying of alcohol as the basic need in social contact. This book seldom recounts the cost of alcohol on body and intellect, although she does recount the dismal mornings following particularly misguided binges. And she seldom introduces those who consistently wreck havoc upon themselves and their families. The alcohol of the story is presented with mostly dreamy fondness. The scenes are not lurid and buffoonery is not a goal. (At least after the learning curve of adolescence.). And I must wonder what happens to the person forced by the destruction of alcoholism to leave his/her bar.

So although I have rather severe reservations about the drinking world, I did enjoy this book for its frank and literate craic. The vignettes are lucid with enticing bars and beckoning companions. I still think that these joys of companionship and belonging can occur outside of bars and drinking, and I think that would be preferable, , but I suppose I can agree to disagree.
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