Hosted at some of the islands favorite watering holes, the authors will be discussing books and maybe even pouring a few pints. Topping off this event’s literary lineup is New York Times cocktail columnist and Drinking with Men author Rosie Schaap. A luminary at this year’s festival, Rosie Schaap will be reading from her bestselling memoir and sharing some of the many lessons she’s learned from her life behind bars. Perhaps there could be no better aperitif for the “Authors in Bars” than getting to know this part-time bartender and full-time writer.
“I had a feeling this would be a thorny book to write,” Schaap says of her memoir, Drinking with Men. “I sometimes have the same response to my ‘Drink’ column in The New York Times. People have ideas about women being lonely or sad, who regularly hang out in bars.” But Schaap’s book is not about addiction, twelve-step programs or a higher power as the title might suggest. Yes, there are many eyebrow-raising tales told in this straightforward, irreverent book, but it is much more a story about like-minded people discovering solace and companion- ship in a place where, like on “Cheers!”, everybody knows your name.
Drinking with Men was originally written as a collection of essays, beginning with the story of how at the age of fifteen, Schaap accidently stumbled into the bar car of the Metro North New Haven commuter train. The book goes on to span two decades of bellying up to bars from New York to Canada and back again. In each establishment, Schaap became more aware of bar culture, particularly a woman’s place in it. “It is much less about the liquor and more about the regular friendship, the ritual of returning, and the autonomy I found among fellow drinkers, particularly the men,” she says. In the end, Schaap realizes that her life in bars is “about adapting and enjoying people’s company, not only on one’s own terms, but on others’.”
Beyond books, Schaap writes for The New York Times, contributes to National Public Radio and bartends one day a week at a mom-and-pop tavern in Brooklyn. These days, she admits that her time in bars is much less frequent. “At the age of forty- two, I can’t drink as much as I used to,” she laughs, “but it is important to me that I know the bars are still there when I need some company.” Thankfully, there will be no shortage of company at the second annual Nantucket Book Festival, where many readers and writers will be drinking up a rare literary experience.