Monday, July 14, 2008

And a six-pack to go... Steinbook Roundup, Pt. 6

6. The Twin Cities' Star Tribune offers this harsh assessment of Neil Steinberg's memoir Drunkard:
[Steinberg's] amazing snobbery does not help endear him to the reader. He sees the people in his AA group as beneath him; he blames [his wife] Edie for his troubles; he gets bored listening to the "woes of others" at his meetings and itches to get back to talking about himself.

But it is his shallow self-image that it is most galling, the way he embraces the mystique of the hard-drinking, Robert Benchley/James Thurber/Mike Royko-type journalist.

He looks at his young sons and thinks, "It kills me that they'll know I'm not the sophisticated dad swirling the wine in his glass and casting off confidence like a glow. They won't admire me."

After 270 pages, he finally has stopped drinking, but you are not at all convinced that it will last. And the emotion you're left with, sadly, is not empathy, but schadenfreude.

5. A more sympathetic -- but harshly titled! -- review/cover-story in The Chicago Jewish News, "Jewish Drunk", explores the role of Steinberg's Judaism:
In a phone conversation (where Steinberg sheds his acerbic self, seems eager to please) he says, surprisingly, that "what helped me get through this was studying Talmud."

Talmud? That wasn't in the book ...

"Talmudic thinking," he amplifies. "Thinking your way out. If you can't drink your way out, you think your way out. The route most people take, putting your faith in Jesus, wasn't really an option for me. I had to think it through really on my own. Being Jewish teaches you to think - the same way when you're six years old you stand up in a room full of gentiles and hold up a menorah and tell them you're Jewish."
4. The Jewish News piece also includes this micro-review from Mrs. Steinberg:
I think it's a magnificent book. It can really help people understand the nature and obsession of addiction, which I think is great. *** Almost everyone can enjoy it. It really can help people understand addiction. So many people know someone who is addicted to something or other - alcohol, illegal or legal drugs. It can really help people.
3. Steinberg's interview with Fox News Chicago is available here.

2. And Steinberg talks with WGN Radio's Kathy and Judy here.

1. And if you want to try a shot of Mr. Steinberg's book for yourself, an excerpt is provided in your Chicago Sun-Times.

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