“Distilled Knowledge”: My friend’s book about the science of drinkin’

got a write-up in the Boston Globe! In his senior year at Yale University, Brian D. Hoefling became the go-to guy for friends with questions about alcohol consumption. His expertise was not solely a result of prodigious personal experience, however, but from weeks spent learning about classic drinks, a mission Hoefling took on after a few friends mentioned a fear of graduating without knowing how to “drink like adults.”“Once I start researching something, I have trouble leaving questions una … [Read more...]

For There’s Nothing Original in Me/Except Original Sin: A Birthday Book Meme

I really enjoyed Melinda Selmys's list of the twenty books that have shaped her. It's my birthday (totally unrelated link, you guys) so it seemed like a good time to do my own list. Herein, fifteen books I blame, with commentary.In chronological order; when I can't remember (e.g. the first three books), in order from greatest impact to least. And keeping in mind that we are unknown to ourselves, we knowers, so probably like Carbonel, The King of the Cats should be #1 here, but the only … [Read more...]

“Five Things I Wish I’d Known About Alcohol”: I’m at Aleteia

with five things:The first time I got drunk, I was embarrassing. I was 17 and sloppy, grabbing other people’s beers to finish the dregs, kissing randoms. I rode the subway home in the morning feeling incredible—feeling new. My ridiculous and pathetic behavior was transformed into a kind of success. Now that was a party.A decade and a half later I started to read about other people who’d had the same feeling: like falling in love, but also like being loved, like being good, like flying. Ot … [Read more...]

From “Modern Manners”

A brief predivorce period is favored because it's best for final separation to take place before the romance is gone from a marriage. Otherwise the couple are likely to have no regrets. (Having no regrets is a common, even popular, modern condition. It is nevertheless to be avoided. Having no regrets is what robs modern alcoholism of its poignancy. It has also ruined modern verse.) … [Read more...]

Don’t Medicalize My Eschaton (or, What If Addiction Isn’t a Thing?)

Three blind men are feeling around with their hands, trying to determine what's in front of them."I feel something long and ropy, with a bristly end," one says."I feel something thick and wrinkly, muscular and prehensile," one says."I feel something curved and hard and smooth, like a shofar," one says."I've got it!" the first one exclaims. "It's an elephant!"And they spend the next five days trying to feed hay to a table with a rope, a shedding python, and a shofar on it. … [Read more...]

“Amends” reviewed by Rachel Manija Brown

author of All the Fishes Come Home to Roost: ...The prose and dialogue of Amends is a real pleasure, biting and clever and snappy, quotable and re-readable. At times it’s almost too polished. One of the points of Amends is how modern American society is constructed to allow us an endless amount of shallow quick fixes we can use to stave off whatever raw and terrifying emotions or reality we’re hiding from. Reach out, and there’s always something there to grab, whether it’s drugs and booze, TV an … [Read more...]

“Famous Monsters of Filmland”: I review Tim Powers’s new novel

for AmCon: The novels of dark fantasist Tim Powers often flow out of weird, grim moments in real history: the strange encounter of a fox and an English spy; the long lit matches burning in a bloodthirsty pirate’s beard. Powers’s latest book, Medusa’s Web, got its start when Powers encountered one of these disturbing little bits of trivia: Rudolph Valentino received Last Rites twice. Why? To answer that question, Powers spins a tale of family secrets and Hollywood ghosts–and an otherworldly, addi … [Read more...]