Book and a Beer is a new regular feature here at Brews + Books – a chance for authors, brewers and bloggers to tell you a little bit about their favorite books and beers.
My brother Jake Christie is a hell of a guy. Jake is an experienced writer with a BA in Media Studies and Writing from the University of Southern Maine and a couple NaNoWriMo novels under his belt. His work has been featured online and in print, in such varied venues as Yankee Pot Roast, Word Riot, College Humor, Points in Case, Ramble Underground, and FACE Magazine. He also maintains his own blog – [this blog will be titled when inspiration strikes me] – and is a writer and performer for Tasty Dude Films. He was kind enough to share a few paragraphs on his favorite book and favorite beer.
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
If memory serves, which it does only by it’s own volition, our parents had this hallway that was full – and I’m talking floor-to-ceiling wall-to-wall to-the-gills full – with books. In high school, having nearly exhausted the breadth of Star Wars novels that George Lucas was willing to shell out money for, I used to wander this hall, looking for interesting books to read. A lot of the collection was books that I had absolutely no interest in. Books about cooking, books about business, books about being a responsible adult. Then there was this funny-looking book with a red cover and yellow comic-type lettering that read “Breakfast of Champions.” I flipped it open and read, “give an idea of the maturity of my illustrations for this book, here is my picture of an asshole,” followed by a picture of an asshole. The moment I saw that asshole, I became a fan of Kurt Vonnegut.
Breakfast of Champions is about two old white guys “on a planet which was dying fast.” There’s Kilgore Trout, a prolific but unknown science-fiction writer whose work has only appeared in magazines opposite pictures of “wide-open beavers.” Despite these facts he receives an invitation to speak at the Midland City Festival of the Arts and, having nothing better to do, hitches there. Then there’s Dwayne Hoover, a rich and successful entrepreneur already in Midland City who goes completely and utterly shithouse crazy. He reads one of Trout’s stories and comes to believe that he is the only being with free will in the universe. Trout gets to Midland city and some things happen.
There’s also this other old white guy, Kurt Vonnegut, who constantly clues the reader in to the fact that these two white guys are characters in a book. Vonnegut joins the story, wielding omnipotent power and wearing sunglasses.
Vonnegut has this way of telling a story like… well, like he’s telling a story. There’s a musicality in his language that you usually only hear in interesting conversation or jazz records. He makes the keen observations that his characters can’t. He tells you, “Listen, I know you’re reading this book, but get a load of this.” There are no unimportant characters, no rushed plot beats, no insignificant asides. Vonnegut once said that there are two kinds of writers – “Swoopers” and “Bashers.” “Swoopers” write quickly, getting everything down, and then go back and edit. “Bashers” make sure everything is right before they put it down. Vonnegut was a self-proclaimed basher, and it shows in every line.
So it goes.
– The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevski
– The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
– Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
– The Tao Te Ching by Lao-Tzu, translation by Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo
Pabst Blue Ribbon
I don’t pop my collar, squeeze into skinny jeans, or listen to bands that haven’t been invented yet. I’m too much of a dork to be a hipster even if I wanted to be, so don’t get any fucking ideas. I don’t love PBR because of some cultural imperative; I love Pabst Blue Ribbon because I do.
I love PBR because it is the beer I drink. When I turned 21 I didn’t drink beer. My dorm days were wiled away on Hard Lemonade and hard liquor, and when someone bought me a bitter IPA on my 21st birthday, I thought somebody had thrown up in my mouth. But soon I started hanging out with my buddies at my friend Aaron’s apartment, and PBR was the name of the game. In the beginning I would say I didn’t “like” PBR so much as I “got used to it.” Then there was the revelation that marks any religious experience, inexplicable and miraculous; all of a sudden I wasn’t just going through PBRs, I was enjoying PBRs.
I love PBR because it is cheap. I’ve had your Buds, your Millers, your Narragansetts. I’ve tasted your Schlitzes, your Milwaukees, your Coorses. They taste weird. Your bargain-basement brews taste funny, but PBR tastes right.
I love PBR because I love beer. I’m not unrefined. I often enjoy the delights of a beer that costs more than five dollars, from a country I’ve never heard of, in a language I do not understand. It’s common that I sample a beer from a brewery run by fewer people than I’ve shared apartments with. I can discuss the merits of hops, wheat, and mouthfeel at length. But would I deny PBR because it’s popular? Never. Ghandi was popular, too.
I love PBR so much that I wrote about it for my school newspaper.
Pabst Blue Ribbon is not the best beer. It is not the tastiest beer. It is not the most unique beer. But it is my beer, and I enjoy it. Despite the things it isn’t, it is still my favorite beer.
Have a favorite beer and a favorite book? Want to write a few paragraphs for Brews + Books? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.