This one hit me hard, and I have to admit I’m still processing a lot of it.
Drink is part memoir, part investigative journalism, written by Ann Dowsett Johnston, a former editor at “Maclean’s” magazine (Canada’s “Newsweek,” if I may), the story of one woman’s family history and journey of alcoholism, and also an examination of the dangers of (mostly Western) society’s portrayal of the ideal woman and her relationship with alcohol, with is generally supposed to be empowering, equality-driven and rewarding, but has been found by scientists and doctors to be problematic and medically dangerous.
As a person in theater, who has been married to a stagehand, who started drinking at 17, who loves being “one of the boys,” who is a woman to whom marketing about empowerment and equality and reward is completely directed, it was all a little overwhelming, and a very useful perspective to add to my mix.
Johnston is a very readable writer, and the structure of the book is very clean. Between the readability and the subject matter, I found myself racing through the book, shouting to myself (on the inside): “Oh my goodness, that’s how they got me!”
Alcohol is a hugely lucrative industry, but there is always pressure to earn more, make it bigger, make it more successful. And my take-away from Drink is that I don’t want to be a marketing target. I want to drink what I want, when I want to, and not because I’ve been taught that I “earned” it, or “deserve” it. “They” don’t get to use me anymore in their money-making schemes. I will be a more discerning consumer, and even more importantly, I will be a healthier person. And so I could not be more grateful for Johnston for her candor, and her passion, and this book.