I was really, really excited to finally get my copy of this book from the library (I had been on the waiting list). I anticipated a literary version of Cheers told from a female perspective. I thought of life long friendships with an interesting cast of characters set in the warm, dark smoky confines of pubs and bars, not exactly what I got.
The first quarter of the book is all about a seriously messed up childhood, think teen years, as a Dead Head high school dropout touring the country fueled by booze and drugs and probably lots of casual sex, although that isn’t discussed. A rape is discussed, but in an almost dismissive manner, which led me to assume sexual assaults were so prevalent that it was nothing remarkable. I almost stopped reading but there were hints that the author turned her life around so I persevered.
The rest of the book highlights the authors quest for “regularity”, that is the state of being a “regular” at a bar. The memoir does swerve into other areas of the author’s life such as college, marriage, religious training, and work. I think my disappointment with the book is the lack of depth. It is like a running narrative of: this happened, that happened, this happened, etc. None of the characters are developed, other than some detail about Ed, we don’t really get to “know” any of the characters. I guess I expected more of a focus on relationships and people, not this running cast of “strangers” just passing through the story.
Upon reflection, perhaps I expected too much. Maybe Drinking with Men is an accurate reflection of the nature of the “regular” bar relationships. Having never been a “regular” perhaps I have an overly romanticized vision of the neighborhood bar environment? Still I expected something more than a running account of a relatively young woman’s life to date.