The Wet and the Dry: A Drinker’s Journal

Lawrence Osborne. Crown, $25 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7704-3688-9
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The British-born peripatetic novelist and travel writer Osborne has proved himself spectacularly adventurous in previous works (The Forgiven; Bangkok Days; etc.); in his latest outing, he similarly unfurls serious adventures through righteous Muslim lands in search of a drink. Osborne scorns facile observations, especially about himself: he is a connoisseur of self-knowledge, in particular regarding his states of solitary drinking and altered moods. He is also a practiced traveler, and heads to the desiccated Arab lands as a kind of perverse punishment—for example, when he tries (and fails) to score a bottle of champagne on New Year’s Eve in Muscat, Oman, with his Italian lover. Bars are geared to Westerners (“the unclean”) in places like Saudi Arabia and Malaysia only because it was good business, while often, curious Muslims are intercepted upon entering these bars and even punished by caning or thrashing. Osborne elicits some profound and harrowing reflections along the way about the wet and the dry cultures, falling rather cleanly along ideological lines—namely, that being able to drink and enjoy public gathering spaces spells freedom, while being restricted from drinking alcohol, as suggested rather than dictated by the Koran, means being immured in private cells. From Dubai to Beirut, Islamabad to Brooklyn, Osborne’s meditations on fermentation and distillation induce a host of refreshing, taut, timeless unmoorings. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/13/2013
Release date: 07/23/2013
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-84655-462-9
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4090-2758-4
Open Ebook - 130 pages - 978-0-7704-3689-6
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-0-09-955278-9
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-7704-3690-2
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