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A Pint of Plain: Tradition, Change, and the Fate of the Irish Pub Hardcover – 3 Feb 2009
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"With scholarly rigor, he surveys the literature on the history of drinking, drunkenness and pubs before rewarding himself with the grueling and perilous fieldwork of sampling deeply from the 12,000 outposts in Ireland where alcohol is sold by the glass...Mr. Barich's picaresque meander through the Irish bloodstream is an entertaining survey of the culture and commerce of Ireland at a tremulous moment in its history...Fascinating." --William Birdthistle, Wall Street Journal"Barich weaves a never-ending stream of oddly engaging historical and literary references into every dead end...Barich's passion for boozy subjects is broad and undeniable. He's equally at ease covering the effects of the temperance movement and introducing regional slang terms for being drunk." --James Oliver Cury, New York Times Book Review"The American writer Bill Barich moved to Ranelagh, on Dublin's south side, some time ago and set out to find the perfect Irish pub. A Pint of Plain: Tradition, Change, and the Fate of the Irish Pub is an engaging account of his quest and investigations." --Katherine A. Powers, Boston Globe"Nicely researched, intelligently written, his book is a fun read tinged with melancholy at the thought of time passing and things changing; appropriately Irish, I think." --Laurie Hertzel, Minneapolis Star Tribune
About the Author
Bill Barich has written for the New Yorker and other publications for many years. He is the author of the classic Laughing in the Hills, as well as Crazy for Rivers, Carson Valley, and most recently A Fine Place to Daydream: Racehorses, Romance, and the Irish. He lives in Dublin, Ireland.
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Shunning anything that runs afoul (read: television and recorded music) of his pub ideal and dismissing those shops that flirt with an atmosphere that might be defined as "traditional" by most standards as prepackaged, prefabricated, Ireland-by-Disney shlock, Barich seems more interested in simply finding a pub that suits him.
Opining on how Ireland's culture is being exported while concurrently being diluted at home, the author's search seems to be more a quixotic quest that has no more chance of success than a search for Waltons Mountain or Walnut Grove. Ultimately, what he is nostalgic for in the Irish pub is rooted in a time when Ireland suffered poverty, economic stagnation and an oppressive theocracy. Would he be content to assume that baggage as part of his desire for "tradition"?
Overall, A Pint of Plain is an enjoyable, fun read. I'm sure Mr. Barich's pub is out there somewhere. He may just have to go to the Bunratty Folk Park to find it. Or he could go to Tom Collins on Cecil Street in Limerick. I'd be interested in his opinion of that shop.
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