Rosie Schapp: Drinking with Men a memoir

 

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.

 

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