The New York Times
A Pint of Plain: Tradition, Change and the Fate of the Irish Pubby Bill Barich
After meeting and marrying an Irish woman and moving to Dublin, celebrated New Yorker writer Bill Barich found himself looking for a traditional Irish pub to become his local. Pubs have always been at the heart of Irish life and culture, proliferating in cities and towns alike, so Barich had no shortage of choices. But to his surprise, he could not find what he/i>… See more details below
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After meeting and marrying an Irish woman and moving to Dublin, celebrated New Yorker writer Bill Barich found himself looking for a traditional Irish pub to become his local. Pubs have always been at the heart of Irish life and culture, proliferating in cities and towns alike, so Barich had no shortage of choices. But to his surprise, he could not find what he considered a classic pub; each had developed fatal flaws, be they flat screen televisions, touristy souvenirs, kitschy décor, or other accommodations to modernity. Even the pubs that looked authentic and old were often not what they appeared. All of which signalled to one of our sharpest chroniclers of culture that something deeper was at play--an erosion of the essence of Ireland, perhaps without the Irish even being aware.
A Pint of Plain became a quest to chronicle the state of the Irish pub today, and by extension to examine Irish culture at a time of extraordinary change across the country. From the famed watering holes of Dublin to the pubs and shebeens (small bars within houses) in the country, Barich introduces a colorful array of personalities--from publicans to customers--whose observations are as tasty as the pints they serve and drink. He blends the history of Guinness into his story, and also explores the impact of the IPC (Irish Pub Company), which, for a fee, will help anyone create an "authentic" pub anywhere in the world. Weaving tradition and lore, literary and film references, into his narrative, Barich has written a book that will be irresistible to anyone who is Irish or who appreciates the finer points of Irish culture.
The New York Times
All that the author, a California transplant, wanted was to find the perfect pub in his Dublin neighborhood, an easy task since Barich had "been in training for the job most of my life." What should be a breeze morphs into a countrywide pub crawl and journalistic investigation, as the author discovers that the romanticized Irish pub of The Quiet Man has become commercialized, while stricter drunk driving laws and Ireland's changing social dynamics don't bode well for the future of the places beloved by everyone from Joyce to the working class. Barich (Laughing in the Hills) also talks about the various aspects of Irish pub culture, from its music to its literary denizens. Barich crams in a lot of intriguing elements-history, sociology, autobiography, travelogue, character study-without deciding on a focus. Consequently, his effort feels less like a book than a collection of loosely connected facts and observations, which gradually languish as the author strays from the revelatory and informative (e.g., the nutritional qualities of Guinness; Ireland's attempts at temperance) for the quaint. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Barich (A Fine Place To Daydream: Racehorses, Romance, and the Irish) is a "blow-in" to the Irish pub scene, an American who married an Irishwoman and went in search of a pub to call his own. What he found was a bit of a disappointment to someone raised on the stories of James Joyce and Brendan Behan, which extol the virtues of the dingy, dark, yet cheery pubs of yore. Today "McPubs," as they've been disparagingly nicknamed, are brightly lit, cater to families, and scatter around ersatz Irish traditions. Barich tracks their export to countries around the world-you can sample bread and drippings and sip an Irish Car Bomb in such places as Beirut, Ho Chi Minh City, and Guam. Barich did find a favorite pub, and, even in an age of early closings and cigarette smoking bans, he manages to explain the lure and lore of an Irish pub with wit and insight. There are several books on the market concerning Irish pubs, many of which contain color photos (Barich's features black-and-white illustrations), so large public libraries might want to consider this a prime optional purchase.
Joseph L. Carlson
- Bloomsbury USA
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- Barnes & Noble
- NOOK Book
- File size:
- 732 KB
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