Seamlessly blending history and reportage, Bill Barich offers a heartfelt homage to the traditional Irish pub, and to the central piece of Irish culture disappearing along with it. After meeting an Irishwoman in London and moving to Dublin, Bill Baricha found himself looking for a traditional Irish pub to be his local.
There are nearly 12,000 pubs in Ireland, so he appeared to have plenty of choices. He wanted a pub like the one in John Fords classic movie, "The Quiet Man", offering talk and drink with no distractions, but such pubs are now scare as publicans increasingly rely on flat-screen televisions, rock music, even Texas Hold 'Em to attract a dwindling clientele. For Barich, this signaled that something deeper was at playan erosion of the essence of Ireland, perhaps without the Irish even being aware.
A Pint of Plain is Barichs witty, deeply observant portrait of an Ireland vanishing before our eyes. Drawing on the wit and wisdom of Flann O'Brien, James Joyce, Brendan Behan, and J. M. Synge, Barich explores how Irish culture has become a commodity for exports for such firms as the Irish Pub Company, which has built some 500 authentic Irish pubs in 45 countries, where authenticity is in the eye of the beholder. The tale of Arthur Guinness and the famous brewery he founded in the mid-18th century reveals the astonishing fact that more stout is sold in Nigeria than in Ireland itself.
From the famed watering holes of Dublin to tiny village pubs, Barich introduces a colorful array of characters, and, ever pursuing craic, the ineffable Irish word for a good time, engages in an unvarnished yet affectionate discussion about what it means to be Irish today.
©2009 Bill Barich; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
"Most browsers will pick this up because they want to read about Irish pubs, but they will get much, much more than they expected. An excellent, however sneaky, addition to the literature of globalization." (Booklist)
I read "A Pint of Plain" before listening to the audio version. The book seems disjointed, and jumps back and forth in the author's description of Ireland's pub and drinking culture and history, but ultimately is an enjoyable and informative read. The audio version, however, seems much less successful due to the reading style of the narrator, which I found very annoying.
The book has some humor but nowhere near the wit of "McCarthy's Bar," "'Round Ireland With a Fridge," "A Course Called Ireland," or "Pint-Sized Ireland." Yet the narrator treats it as a comic masterpiece. Every fact is delivered as a punch line, way over the top over-acting. Too bad it wasn't read with the honesty of Edward Enfield's reading of "Freewheeling Through Ireland."
"A Pint of Plain" is definitely one case of read the book rather than listen to it
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