I’m an avid reader. But I think a lot of people say that. What I mean by saying I’m an avid reader is that I read about one 200-500 page book every two weeks. This, like anything else, can cause a brain burn out of sorts, creating times where I just don’t feel like reading anything at all for awhile and/or feel like I need a real page turner to break up the moderately interesting fiction I may be working through. I try to alleviate this tendency by alternating my reads between fiction and non-fiction work.
All this is to say that the last two books I have read, left me flat on drawing enjoyment or intelligence out of their pages.
I got pretty much what I expected to get out of reading Dean Koontz’s latest publication, “Innocence” (2013). I soldiered through about 100 pages of the work to find each chapter irritating me more and more with the “…this character looked around a corner and you won’t believe what happens next” kind of writing style that I thought was only painfully apparent in the Internet journalism world. When it was reveled that the co-protagonist’s father was killed by poisoned honey from his hobby in beekeeping, I knew it was time to move on.
And so I took a chance on a non-fiction selection of travel essays by Lawrence Osborne called “The Wet and the Dry: A Drinker’s Journey.” I selected this work from the BloggingforBooks Web site (and received the book free of charge for anyone who is wondering) because I enjoy learning about the history of items I encounter in my every day, and I am fascinated with drug culture and its history. Alcohol isn’t exactly what people would bring to mind when they consider “Drugs,” but it is of the same mind-altering family, although more socially acceptable than relatives like marijuana or absinthe.
I was expecting a history of alcohol and drinking in the US as well as worldwide. The description that led me to believe this was thus: “Drinking alcohol: a beloved tradition, a dangerous addiction, even a “sickness of the soul”…IN his wide-ranging travels, Lawrence Osborne–a veritable connoisseur himself—has witnessed opposing views on 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?”
What I got instead from this work was a rambling sort of narrative from someone who enjoys drinking and telling stories about how, when, and where he drinks. It was like meeting a businessman in a bar who wanted to chat you up with all the impressive places he’s had drinks. I was drinking my soda water and mouthing to myself, “…and I care…why?”
Perhaps someone who is more into drink and more of a interest in Middle Eastern culture will enjoy this read more. For me, the work felt waterlogged. The author inserts himself in such an indirect way that I can’t even be bothered to wonder about his personality and if it’s an interesting one or not. There’s no character to follow here. I did enjoy the facts about certain alcohol production methods, drink concoctions, and little factoids. Yet, these were so few and far between that my interest wasn’t held enough to stick with the work.
Bottom line: If you are looking to hear an account of what it’s like to go from wet (drinking like a fish) to dry (stone cold sober), best do your own research, make some memories, and skip this read.