Book Review: Hungover

Author: Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall
Genre: Microhistory
Pub Date: November 20, 2018
FLW Rating: 3/5
Goodreads Link

Hungover was a total impulse buy (which is super rare for me these days!) There was something that really drew me to this micro-history when I saw it in the bookstore over the winter holiday. And so as to not let the attraction dwindle I decided to read it right away! It was satisfying, as far as impulse buys go, but probably not something to write home about (unless you have a blog like me ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

Hungover, as the subtitle explains, is one man’s quest for the cure to the modern hangover. Shaugnessy takes you on a journey of not only his hangovers but his life – his family, his relationships, and his career as a freelance journalist – all while getting drunk and talking about it how it feels.

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One thing that caught me by surprise is that, while the subtitle implies a global journey, Bishop-Stall’s journey is limited to a very small part of the world – primarily the US, Canada, England, and Ireland. To be fair, this is stated on the first page. Apparently I’m not a very good impulse buyer, because I didn’t read any of the book before purchasing it, just the front and back cover. One of the things I was most interested in was how they deal with hangovers in Asia because their medicine is so different from Western medicine, but alas this wasn’t what the book was about.

While I really appreciated a lot of the humor and the book as a whole, in general, I had some problems with the structure of the book. For one, there are “notes” at the end of each chapter, which stood on their own and I never quite understood the flow of them. And secondly, at times the book felt like it was written more for the author than the reader. He often talked about other writing assignments that were unrelated to the book, or other experiences in his life without giving the reader any context. This was particularly present in one of the middle chapters on England. There was a part where Bishop-Stall is recreating an old movie, and having not seen the movie, this overly long chapter did nothing for me, and instead made me question why I was reading this book in the first place and who, if not me, the target audience was meant to be.

I almost put the book down then, but I’m glad I didn’t because after that point, it started to delve more in to the hangover solution and the central conflict ofย is the best hangover cure, to abstain from drinking excessive amounts?

By the end of the book I found myself surprisingly invested in Bishop-Stall’s quest, and also really feeling for the guy as he dealt with the repercussions of this heavy drinking. While I wasn’t blown away, I was glad I read this book. I learned a bit and was entertained and, importantly, also fulfilled my curiosity that was sparked that day in the bookstore. I have a feeling if I hadn’t taken it home with me, I’d still be wondering about the outcome of his story.

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: Hungover

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