Finding a sense of community and camaraderie, a place where “everyone knows your name,” if you will, is the primary theme of Drinking with Men: A Memoir.
The author leads the reader through her own unique journey with bars, beginning with the impact that a particular railroad car had on her as a teen, and then we saunter along with her in her Deadhead years, a time of youthful excesses in a number of places almost forgettable except for the drinking.
Still very young, she first experiences a pub in Dublin that set the tone for many to follow. And the bars during her college years left their mark on her and would become part of her bar identity for all that followed, from New York to Montreal.
A sense of family and community seemed to dominate the appeal, lending itself to why she chose a particular bar. Sometimes a bar would become hers almost serendipitously…and then would belong to her for years. A sense of being a regular was a guiding force in showing up at a particular bar several nights a week. Finding old friends in new places would also lend that special connection, that celebratory reminiscence that would coalesce and anoint the place…until another would take over as The Bar of Choice at the moment.
I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative voice of the author, as she rambled on, not necessarily in a linear fashion, sharing tidbits about her life and the people in her journey, inhabitants of the bar culture where she took up residence. A quest for family, friends, and a feeling of refuge would heighten the experiences more than the actual drinking. I am familiar with that quest and have enjoyed a few favorite “watering holes” over the years. As I read about the bars in this memoir, I could almost feel them and sense them. The author made them real for me. Five stars.