Interview with Kate Christensen, author of five novels, including Trouble and The Great Man

by Leah on February 9, 2010


From time to time, we will post short interviews with interesting people about their thoughts and feelings on women and drinking. There is such a wide array of perspectives about this topic, and we are excited to gain insight into as many as possible and to share them with you.

Kate Christensen is the author of five novels, including The Great Man, which won the 2008 PEN/Faulkner Award. She has written reviews and essays for numerous publications, most recently the NYTBR, Bookforum, Tin House, Elle, and the B&N Review. She is at work on a new novel, The Astral.

Drinking Diaries: How old were you when you had your first drink and what was it?

I was 15, on a beach in northern Mexico. It was my sophomore year of high school, and I was on a Spanish Club camping trip in Puerto Penasco. A group of us kids was on the beach, unsupervised (it was the 1970s), sitting around a bonfire. The tequila bottle passed by me, and with everyone watching, I took a swig. There was a general noise of approval and surprise: I was the youngest kid on the trip, the good-girl drama nerd. It tasted awful but burned warmly in my chest. I wanted more right away. I never looked back after that first taste.

How do you approach alcohol in your everyday life?

With love, respect, enthusiasm, interest. Not always moderation, but I do try.

What’s your drink of choice? Why?

I have three favorite drinks: red wine, straight tequila with a sangrita chaser, and an icy, strong, very dry vodka martini with olives. Make that four: a mimosa. Each one has its proper occasion. For everyday dinner drinking, a glass or two of red wine; for summer festivities, tequila; for cold-weather comfort, a martini (this sounds counter-intuitive, maybe, but the savory, bracing iciness of cold vodka is thrilling in a warm room on a freezing night); and for a social brunch, a mimosa made with cava or prosecco and fresh orange juice.

What do you like most about drinking?    trouble

The way it removes me from reality just slightly. I don’t like getting drunk, but I Iove the slight lift of gentle tipsiness, the swooshing elevation of perception.

Do you have a favorite book, song, or movie about drinking?

The novel “Lucky Jim” by Kingsley Amis contains the funniest, truest, most poignantly wrenching description of a hangover anywhere in literature. Does that count?


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