Thursday, 19 August 2010

And what did you learn?

The fruit of one of those great ideas that I get, when I fail to bear in mind how much work the whole project is actually going to involve, A Good Old Fashioned 120 Unit Week came into existence 13 months and 99 books ago, last July. For my 100th post, I have decided to look back on the whole boozy enterprise and ask myself “...and what did you learn?” Well, what indeed...

The premise of the blog is still as it was when it started, to chronicle the pleasures, pains and perils of alcohol, in all its guises, as described by the world’s writers. These criteria are so woolly that I’ve managed to squeeze numerous biographies, a history of the Tour de France, Elizabeth David’s cookery books, and two references to the Bible into my posts, in between the usual boozy suspects such as Kingsley Amis and Jaroslav Hašek. It has kept me busy, at any rate. Oh, and before anyone asks, the most frequent references to alcohol I've found have been on wine...

I don’t think any feelings I had about the sauce have changed significantly since starting the blog. I have, however, learned the origin of the phrase “On the wagon” and have discovered a good bit about the workings of AA (I particularly liked Clarissa Dickson Wright’s line that the higher power one of her fellow members looked to was The Times Crossword).

Regarding writers and writing, I’ve introduced myself to Martina Cole and Helen Fielding, (Cole is a lot more fun...), I’ve come to the conclusion that I probably learned more about the craft of writing in three chapters of Stephen King’s The Shining that I did struggling through John Updike’s Couples, I was unexpectedly impressed by Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls and sadly disappointed by the Leslie Thomas’s Tropic of Ruislip.

Favourite book? Not telling. Not because I’m trying to cultivate an air of mystery, but because I genuinely can’t decide. I’m eternally grateful for the train of thought that delivered me to Dan Farson’s autobiography, as I am also to the set of events that found me taking out Denise Hooker’s biog of Nina Hamnett. I will say though that I thought Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was the best book I read last year...

Back to normal next week – I’m now posting weekly now, in an effort to getting something done in my spare time other than scouring books for references to electric soup. In the meantime, please feel free to comment on your own favourites, or on anything that you feel ought to be covered in the next year of 120 Units. Chin chin until then...

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