BEER MONEY by Frances Stroh


A Memoir of Privilege and Loss
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Detroit’s decadeslong public death spiral mirrors the steady dissolution of one of the city’s most prominent clans: the Stroh family of brewers.

Stroh, the golden-haired scion of the once-mighty Midwestern beer kings, remembers growing up under the shadow of material wealth and familial conspicuousness. Uneasy with both the brood and the money, the author sensed early on that not everything was as it seemed to be inside their tony enclave of Grosse Pointe: not the family’s beer empire that, for a time, kept the money coming in and certainly not the alcoholic father who appeared more enamored with his vintage collection of guitars and guns than his children. “Once he’d come into my room while I was writing a paper and had slapped me across the face for no apparent reason,” writes the author. “Later, he’d come back in, crying and apologizing. He was just drunk, he said.” The anxiety that Eric Stroh, frustrated photographer and reluctant beer baron—along with an equally disconnected mother—instilled in the Stroh children portends disaster as assuredly as the decades of economic malfeasance that led to Detroit’s fall. Frances, who still managed to distinguish herself as a Fulbright scholar, writes candidly and insightfully about the growing solicitude that grew inside her throughout her life. The assortment of family portraits displaying the dichotomy of smiling faces and secret hurts echoes that suffering in haunting fashion; her brother’s tragic trajectory is particularly disquieting and sad. “I was finding that gaining perspective on false constructs was a far simpler feat in art than in life itself,” writes Stroh. “In life, the false constructs themselves tended to take over.” In the family’s comfortable world, the outward appearance of abundance only masked the unsettling truth that unconditional love, much like money, sometimes comes in limited supply. The author’s family might have successfully burned through a massive fortune, but they squandered a lot more than that.

A sorrowful, eye-opening examination of familial dysfunction.

Pub Date: May 3rd, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-06-239315-9
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2016

Kirkus Interview
Frances Stroh
author of BEER MONEY
May 6, 2016

Frances Stroh’s earliest memories are ones of great privilege: shopping trips to London and New York, lunches served by black-tied waiters at the Regency Hotel, and a house filled with precious antiques, which she was forbidden to touch. Established in Detroit in 1850, by 1984 the Stroh Brewing Company had become the largest private beer fortune in America and a brand emblematic of the American dream itself; while Stroh was coming of age, the Stroh family fortune was estimated to be worth $700 million. But behind the beautiful façade lay a crumbling foundation. As their fortune dissolved in little over a decade, the family was torn apart internally by divorce and one family member's drug bust; disagreements over the management of the business; and disputes over the remaining money they possessed. “The author’s family might have successfully burned through a massive fortune, but they squandered a lot more than that,” our reviewer writes about Stroh’s debut memoir, Beer Money. “A sorrowful, eye-opening examination of familial dysfunction.” View video >


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