Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss

Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss

by Frances Stroh


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Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss by Frances Stroh

In the tradition of Rich Cohen’s Sweet and Low and Sean Wilsey’s Oh the Glory of it All, a memoir of a city, an industry, and a dynasty in decline, and the story of a young artist’s struggle to find her way out of the ruins.

Frances Stroh’s earliest memories are ones of great privilege: shopping trips to London and New York, lunches served by black-tied waiters at the Regency Hotel, and a house filled with precious antiques, which she was forbidden to touch. Established in Detroit in 1850, by 1984 the Stroh Brewing Company had become the largest private beer fortune in America and a brand emblematic of the American dream itself; while Stroh was coming of age, the Stroh family fortune was estimated to be worth $700 million.

But behind the beautiful façade lay a crumbling foundation. Detroit’s economy collapsed with the retreat of the automotive industry to the suburbs and abroad and likewise the Stroh family found their wealth and legacy disappearing. As their fortune dissolved in little over a decade, the family was torn apart internally by divorce and one family member's drug bust; disagreements over the management of the business; and disputes over the remaining money they possessed. Even as they turned against one another, looking for a scapegoat on whom to blame the unraveling of their family, they could not anticipate that even far greater tragedy lay in store.

Featuring beautiful evocative photos throughout, Stroh’s memoir is elegantly spare in structure and mercilessly clear-eyed in its self-appraisal—at once a universally relatable family drama and a great American story.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062393166
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/30/2017
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 279,121
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Frances Stroh  was born in Detroit and raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. She received her BA from Duke University and her MA from the Chelsea College of Arts in London as a Fulbright Scholar. She practiced as an installation artist, exhibiting in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London, before turning to writing. She lives in San Francisco, California.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

The Collections 5

Lucky 17

Getting Away 67

Return 97

Together 137

Lifting Off 171

Dispossessed 215

Homecoming 245

Flowers 279

Broke 291

Acknowledgments 313

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Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Gail-Cooke More than 1 year ago
A fascinating but sad American story Beer Money is inextricably linked with the deterioration of Detroit, a once great city, the Stroh Brewery Company, at one time the third largest beer maker in our country and holder of the largest private beer fortune, and the Strohs themselves, a dysfunctional family. Frances Stroh writes candidly and honestly in this moving memoir that readers will not soon forget. As a child Frances appeared to be her father’s darling, accompanying him to New York and London where she was treated to visits to her favorite toy store and to watching her father spend incredible amounts of money on his collection - guitars, guns, cameras. While in truth her alcoholic father appeared to care more about his things than his four children - brothers Charlie, Bobby, Whitney and Frances. The family lived in the upscale community of Grosse Pointe, Michigan in a home bulging with valuables that they were forbidden to touch. Their world was one of wealth and power as the money kept rolling in although their mother, Gail, warned them it would not last and worried about their extravagant way of life. Father Eric continued to drink and spend while Gail bought clothes for Frances at a thrift shop in order to save. It was a losing battle. When Detroit and the automobile industry declined so did the Stroh family’s fortunes. While the children had been warned that the money would run out which imbued each of them with a fear of loss, they were ill prepared for the actuality and the personal tragedies that would follow. Already torn apart by disagreements over the family business and the use of whatever money they had left the family was further fractured by the parents divorce, Charlie’s drug addiction, and father’s remarriage to one of Frances’s classmates. While writing Beer Money was surely arduous for the author as she relived painful memories it is often difficult to read as we are presented with a sorrowful sometimes shocking picture of familial dysfunction. If only instead of great wealth there had been love.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This riveting memoir is a fascinating journey into a dark world of privilege. Both honest and lyrical in the writing and telling, it holds you from the first page to the last. Stroh tells a story both personal and deeply American.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a waste of money. I was looking for a rich history of Stroh's Brewery and got a boring memoir from a niece whose family was not even involved that much with the operation. I suggest you look elsewhere.