Sunday, August 9, 2009

Five best books on the pleasures and hazards of booze

Iain Gately's books include Tobacco: A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization and Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol.

For the Wall Street Journal he named a five best list of books on the pleasures and hazards of drink.

One title on the list:
Headlong Hall
by Thomas Love Peacock

The Enlightenment collides with the squirearchy in this ­Regency novel set in a Welsh manor over Christmas. Guests argue over “Progress” or its ­absence, and their host, Harry Headlong, moderates their ­debates with claret, port, brandy and aqua vitae. There are skulls, explosions, landscaped gardens, the Peacock-coined word osseocarnisanguineoviscericartilaginonervomedullary (the bony fleshy bloody gutsy gristly marrowy totality of the body), a ball and later betrothals—all lubricated with lashings of booze. ­“Headlong Hall” is also a roman à clef ­featuring Samuel Taylor ­Coleridge and other Romantic poets, drawn from life. Best of all, it is an enthusiastic and stylish picture of the joys of commensal drinking.
Read about the other four books on Gately's list.

The Page 99 Test: Iain Gately's Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol.

--Marshal Zeringue