Clubbing can’t always be about getting down and dirty with our glasses. Book worms aren’t rowdy revellers, but they can still join in the party. Here are the top five books about alcohol.
Five: Under the Influence, Ross Fitzgerald and Trevor Jordan
An intoxicating read about Australian history seen through the perspective of being under the influence of alcohol. It’s a well written, well researched account of the use and abuse of alcohol from the times of white settlement in Australia, to more recent periods where concerns of underage drinking and binge drinking are major issues.
Four: Teenagers, Alcohol and Drugs, Paul Dillon
More like a parenting guide than a storybook, this is a handy read which will answer all those burning questions you’ve always had about drugs and drinking. The book explores issues such as ecstasy, the trend of drink spiking, stories of overdosing on alcohol and the debate into whether consuming alcohol from a young age makes for lifelong drinkers.
Three: A Million Little Pieces, James Frey
Half fiction, half memoir, this is an account of a 23year-olds life plagued by drugs and alcohol. Frey’s book follows main character, James into rehabilitation and sees him back on the path to goodness. It’s a story of hope, pain and strength [no wonder Oprah chose it for her Book Club].
Two: Scar Tissue, Anthony Kiedis
From the time he first lost his virginity in the toilet block at school, to his constant, spiralling back and forth into drugs and alcohol, this is a true story of fame and fortune. The lead singer of music group, the Red Hot Chili Peppers tells all in this simply written book.
One: Back From the Brink, Graeme Cowan
How many times have you heard this same situation; high achievers having it all? They have the awesome kids, fantastic marriage, great job, enough money and a nice house. What many of us don’t understand is that these people, for one reason or another, still aren’t happy with themselves. Graeme Cowan wasn’t. He suffered from depression and turned to the bottle many a time. In the end he lost it all; the wife, the kids, his job and on many occasions, he almost lost his life. This is his story and the stories of another 12 sufferers of depression.
By Nastasia Campanella for Sydney Bars and Function Rooms
In 1998, William Queen was a veteran law enforcement agent with a lifelong love of motorcycles and a lack of patience with paperwork. When a “confidential informant” made contact with his boss at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, offering to take an agent inside the San Fernando chapter of the Mongols (the scourge of Southern California, and one of the most dangerous gangs in America), Queen jumped at the chance, not realizing that he was kicking-starting the most extensive undercover operation inside an outlaw motorcycle gang in the history of American law enforcement.
Nor did Queen suspect that he would penetrate the gang so successfully that he would become a fully “patched-in” member, eventually rising through their ranks to the office of treasurer, where he had unprecedented access to evidence of their criminal activity. After Queen spent twenty-eight months as “Billy St. John,” the bearded, beer-swilling, Harley-riding gang-banger, the truth of his identity became blurry, even to himself.
During his initial “prospecting” phase, Queen was at the mercy of crank-fueled criminal psychopaths who sought to have him test his mettle and prove his fealty by any means necessary, from selling (and doing) drugs, to arms trafficking, stealing motorcycles, driving getaway cars, and, in one shocking instance, stitching up the face of a Mongol “ol’ lady” after a particularly brutal beating at the hands of her boyfriend.
Yet despite the constant criminality of the gang, for whom planning cop killings and gang rapes were business as usual, Queen also came to see the genuine camaraderie they shared. When his lengthy undercover work totally isolated Queen from family, his friends, and ATF colleagues, the Mongols felt like the only family he had left. “I had no doubt these guys genuinely loved Billy St. John and would have laid down their lives for him. But they wouldn’t hesitate to murder Billy Queen.”
From Queen’s first sleight of hand with a line of methamphetamine in front of him and a knife at his throat, to the fearsome face-off with their decades-old enemy, the Hell’s Angels (a brawl that left three bikers dead), to the heartbreaking scene of a father ostracized at Parents’ Night because his deranged-outlaw appearance precluded any interaction with regular citizens, Under and Alone is a breathless, adrenaline-charged read that puts you on the street with some of the most dangerous men in America and with the law enforcement agents who risk everything to bring them in.
From the Hardcover edition.