Booze, Benders, and Books: The Literary Companion to The Hangover Series

Booze, Benders, and Books: The Literary Equivalent for The Hangover

After losing their friend on the roof of a hotel, accidentally stealing Mike Tyson’s tiger, suffering an assortment of bodily and dental harm, and tangling with a monkey with a particularly bad attitude, you’d think the boys of the "Hangover" movies might consider switching to water. But no, “the wolfpack” is back, in "The Hangover 3," which opens this Thursday. The tagline for this one is “It All Ends” -- but does that mean the drinking, or the series itself? It can be awfully hard to quit a good thing, as the authors of these irreverent memoirs about imbibing and (sometimes) getting sober, can attest. So, before you sneak that flask of wine coolers into the theater to watch the antics of a drunken Bradley Cooper and Company, check out these drinking memoirs.

Dry by Augusten Burroughs

Augusten Burroughs nearly lost everything to drinking. A dozen-drinks-a-night alcoholic, he hid his addiction from friends and family as long as he could, until he was forced to go to rehab or lose his job. Remarkably, the one thing he never lost was his sense of humor.  In this memoir, Burroughs manages to poke fun at himself and the cult of rehab while describing how he became an alcoholic, what he was like at his drunken worst, and the challenges he faced once he got sober. No preacher of AA pieties, Burroughs maintains a healthy disrespect for the sanctimony and self-congratulation that can come with getting clean. “Making alcoholic friends,” he writes, “is as easy as making sea monkeys.” Harder is becoming friendly with your sober self.

Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp

“Our introduction wasn’t dramatic, it wasn’t love at first sight,” Caroline Knapp writes about her first taste of alcohol. Like Burroughs, Knapp was a high-functioning alcoholic -- to family and friends, she seemed completely in control, but in truth her drinking controlled her life, not the other way around. Starting at an early age Knapp used alcohol as “liquid armor,” a way to feel more up to the task of navigating daily life. This memoir is less laugh-out-loud funny than the rest of the books on this list, but Knapp has such a clear, self-aware voice, she conveys the mordant humor of her most desperate behavior, like keeping a “show” bottle half-full of Cognac on display even though she lives alone, and is going through a real bottle every few days.

Bad Dog by Martin Kihn

One school of thought has it that addicts just need to trade their unhealthy addictions -- drugs, alcohol, gambling -- for healthy ones, like exercise. But competitive dog training? In this memoir, Kihn, a former TV writer, is one drink away from hitting bottom when Hola, a poorly-behaved Burmese mountain dog, comes into his life. Kihn realizes that he needs to get a handle on his drinking if he wants to hang on to his wife, his career, and his health, and the best way to do that is at the end of a firmly-gripped leash. As he trains Hola to become not just a good, but a winningly well-mannered dog, he trains himself to live the sober life.

Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler

If the guys from "The Hangover" ever need a fifth wheel, they’d find a kindred spirit in Chelsea Handler. In fact, the stand up comedian might just drink them under the table. In this humorous memoir, Handler writes about getting herself into an assortment of embarrassing and mortifying situations -- usually with the help of a hefty serving of vodka, her drink of choice. The comic, who has gone on to have her own TV show and kickstart the career of several other equally cocktail-happy comedians, is so associated with the drink, Belvedere Vodka sponsored a recent tour.

Everyday Drinking by Kingsley Amis

Some novelists drink in order to write.  Kingsley Amis, on the other hand, may have written in order to drink. This volume combines his three books dedicated to the art and pleasure of getting schnockered: On Drink, Every Day Drinking, and How’s Your Glass?. Amis’s great enthusiasm for all things alcoholic causes him to take a more-is-more approach to the subject: no single glass of fine whiskey for him. He writes about how to treat a hangover, how to economize on alcohol while still getting good and plastered, the best things to eat when your drink is the main course, and how to drink without getting drunk -- though it’s doubtful he employed this last trick all that often.