An investigation of one of the primary downsides of alcohol that has forever plagued and puzzled the world’s drinkers: the common hangover.
“You tumble from dreams of deserts and demons into semi-consciousness,” writes Bishop-Stall (Writing/Univ. of Toronto School of Continuing Studies; Ghosted, 2010, etc.). “Your mouth is full of sand. A voice is calling from far away, as if back in that blurry desert. It is begging you for water. You try to move, but can’t.” In an attempt to pinpoint an effective cure to this morning-after curse, the author plunges into his own lost weekend, emerging with an irreverent, quasi-clinical narrative thick with witty anecdotes and hilarious asides. This is not a treatise on methods of conquering a hangover, nor a step-by-step guide on how to deliver oneself from the evils of this ancient ailment. In his travels to the world’s most notorious drinking spots, including Amsterdam, Scotland, New Orleans, and Las Vegas, the author engaged with all manner of experts and researchers. Along the way, he imbibed every alcoholic concoction imaginable, often while juggling multiple writing assignments. He also met dozens of interesting people, and he tells their stories as well as the backgrounds of various cocktails, the etymology of alcohol-associated words, and the ever changing cultural mores surrounding drunkenness since the Dark Ages. Between visits to various commercial detox clinics that offer IV drip treatments, Bishop-Stall experimented with the often “messy, stinky, dodgy work” of trying nearly every practical (and impractical) morning-after solution ever invented. These include modern pills and nutritional supplements, offbeat recipes like mixing charcoal powder with milk, and, of course, the classic remedy: the hair of the dog. Eventually, Bishop-Stall arrived at a cure of sorts, which he shares with readers. “Yes, I have found a cure for the common hangover—or, more accurately, an antidote, or perhaps a prophylactic,” he writes. “But essentially it is a cure.”
A sharp, entertaining foray into one of civilization’s most ancient and agonizing quandaries.