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Everyday Drinking: The Distilled Kingsley Amis
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 8 February 2009
I've read LUCKY JIM, Amis's hilarious novel about Jim Dixon, a marginal associate professor at a second-rate university who is aggrieved by a pompous boss, has a funny scheming mind, and enjoys a drink or three. Well, EVERYDAY DRINKING suggests that the perspective of the fictitious Dixon might have come easily to Amis, since his voice in ED shows a sensitivity to pomposity (wine snobs), amusing party stratagems (how to serve inferior wines while presenting yourself as a wine expert), and great practical knowledge about the complete drinking experience, which ranges from stocking your bar to tending your hangover to periodic abstinence.

Reading ED raises this question: Why bother to buy a mere informative guide about wines and spirits when Amis gives you plenty of information but packaged with great common sense and a comic novelist's droll narrative skill. For example:

"General Principle 1: Up to a point (i.e. short of offering your guests one of those Balkan plonks marketed as wine...), go for quantity rather than quality. Most people would rather have two glasses of ordinary decent port than one of rare vintage. On the same reasoning, give them big drinks rather than small...Serious drinkers will be pleased and reassured, unserious ones will not be offended, and you will use up less chatting-time going round to recharge glasses."

At the same time, ED can be read as a cautionary text, in which sophisticated pleasure becomes excess. As Christopher Hitchens observes in the introduction: "...the world now knows what Kingsley's innumerable friends had come to realize, which is that booze got to him in the end, and robbed him of his wit and charm as well as his health." To this reader of LUCKY JIM, this also seemed the likely fate of Professor Dixon.

Nonetheless, ED is recommended for the drinking man (and woman) who seeks a specialist's informed pleasure in what is surely the world's primary (public) leisure activity.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2010
... And the other two thirds are a rare instance of Kinglsey Amis just not trying, or feeling a lack of his usual wary wit. This is a compilation of the three books he wrote about boozing in the seventies and eighties, of which the first, 'On Drinking', is an absolute joy - like his best fictional writing, it's true, enjoyable and consistently funny. The descriptions of his inventive list of cocktails are very fun, his distinction between the physical and the metaphysical hangover (and consequent cures for both) are thoughtful, and the analysis of the drinking man's guide to making guests feel they've drunk well at a dinner party is basically a very entertaining short story. All of them are very funny, and extremely quotable.
The second two thirds of the book are made up of a) a collection of columns written in the early 80s for the Express, in which he comes across as rather tired (uncharacteristically for him I've failed to find a single funny line in it - it was written in quite a fallow period after Jake's Thing and Stanley and the Women, regarded as lesser books of his I think, and before he came back to form with the magnificent The Old Devils), and b) a collection of quizzes. I can't quite put into words how disappointing it is to expect to find 100 pages of Kingsley Amis writing about booze and to discover a whole section of unadorned quizzes.
Nevertheless I can't recommend the first 100 pages enough - easily worth five quid.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2011
This is a brilliant book written by a master of comedy and the English Language. Even when suffering from a 'metaphysical hangover'(explanation in the book) I found the strength to cackle at the wit and truth of the writing. It's also the sort of book you dip into to explain the mysteries of wine, spirits, cocktail mixing and general drinking by someone who liked a drink or two. Also how to deal with mean hosts at a drinks party, how not to get drunk and lots of other observations.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2011
This is an entertaining read, also surprising how much you learn about booze along the way - cocktail recipes, the origins of drinks, and even how to cater for the perfect drinks party, all drenched in Amis wit. There is a little repetition, but this is due to this book being a collection of writings on drink, rather than a stand alone volume. A must for anyone who not just enjoys a drink, but enjoys enjoying a drink. Cheers!
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VINE VOICEon 17 September 2013
Everyday Drinking is a collection of three of Kingsley Amis's previously published works: On Drink (1972), Everyday Drinking (1983) and How's Your Glass? (1984). The "How's Your Glass?" section is actually a quiz which required too much expertise to be of interest to me, but the "On Drink" and "Everyday Drinking" sections form a wonderfully informative and often hilarious master-class given by one of life's all-time master-drinkers and lovable rascals (at a distance anyway), Kingsley Amis.

From advice on "Actual Drinks" (what to drink, what not to drink, drink concoctions) to "Tools of the Trade" (essential drink equipment / paraphernalia), "Mean Sod's Guide" (how to avoid giving the good stuff to your guests, but not to yourself) and then moving on the "The Hangover" which is even more hilarious than the famous hangover scene from his first novel, Lucky Jim, this compilation entertains throughout beautifully.

If you are a Kingsley Amis fan you should add this book to your collection. If you are not that familiar with Kingsley Amis but have any interest in the demon alcohol you should add this book to your collection. If you have never heard of Kingsley Amis and have never had a drink, or intend to, but enjoy wonderful writing, you should still add this book to your collection.

A last modest word from the great man:

"Well, if you want to behave better and feel better, the only absolutely certain method is to drink less. But to find out how to do that, you will have to find a more expert expert than I shall ever be."
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on 21 April 2014
This book is compiled of three parts previously published separately. The first part is his book otherwise titled 'On Drink', which is absolutely brilliant (albeit slightly 'dated' by the references to 70s prices and availability), and worth reading over and over. The second part is a collection of slightly tedious newspaper columns, and whilst readable they're hardly in the same league as part one. The final section is basically one long pub quiz, and a pretty pointless one at that - it contributes nothing other than pages, and in my opinion the overall effect would have been better without it. If you can find 'On Drink' as a stand-alone title, I would recommend you buy that instead. If you can't find it, then by all means buy this, if only for part one.
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on 4 December 2014
Much wit and amusement from this old sot. Barking mad in places, delightfully erudite in others. Best served with a little something in the glass at your elbow...
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4 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 9 February 2009
Given as a gift. The recipient was looking forward to soaking himself in Kingsley's boozy world.
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