Search This Blog

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: A Pint of Plain (Irish Pubs)

1. A PINT OF PLAIN; tradition, change, and the fate of the Irish pub
(Walker & Company, 2009; distr. Penguin, 241 pages, ISBN 978-0-8027-
1701-6, $25 US hard covers) is by Bill Barich, a free lance writer
(think New Yorker) living in Dublin. Somewhere along the way, they had
changed the subtitle; it was first announced as "how the Irish pub lost
its magic but conquered the world". And indeed, one log rolling author
says that Barich "voices a reluctant farewell to the old Ireland" as
the new Ireland becomes part of the global mall. There were 12,000 pubs
in Ireland, but Barich wanted one in Dublin that was straight out of
"The Quiet Man", offering talk and drink with no distractions. But
sadly, a dwindling audience meant that pubs had to go after newer,
younger clientele who only wanted games and TV. Pubs had been losing
customers and closing one by one, but two new laws are actually killing
them: strict drunk-driving laws, and no smoking laws. Yet at the same
time, Irish pubs are being replicated all over the world in at least 45
different countries. His narrative combines modern day life with
historical material on the famed pubs of Dublin to tiny village pubs,
along with the denizens of said watering holes. And of course, there is
material on Guinness and other Irish beers. There is some evidence of
cutbacks in the book: there were supposed to be black and white
illustrations throughout, a tie-in with St. Patrick's Day (but I never
got my review copy until June even though I had asked for it months
ago), and a lack of a sorely needed index. The book concludes with a
bibliography for further reading.
Audience and level of use: Irish pub lovers, literate beer drinkers.
Some interesting or unusual facts: more Guinness stout is sold in
Nigeria than is sold in Ireland.
The downside to this book: an index is needed, as well as some
illustrative material.
The upside to this book: well-written and tenderly expressed.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.

No comments: