Interview with Meredith Maran, author of a new memoir, “My Lie”

by Caren on September 22, 2010

photo by Cori Wells Braun

photo by Cori Wells Braun

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.

Meredith Maran is an award-winning journalist, member of the National Book Critics Circle, and the author of several bestselling nonfiction books, including Class Dismissed and What It’s Like to Live Now. Her work appears regularly in anthologies, newspapers, and magazines including People,, More magazine, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Her new book, My Lie: A True Story of False Memory, is just out from Wiley.

How do you approach alcohol in your everyday life? With equal measures of pleasure and ambivalence. I adore cocktails–the same way I adore baking, the alchemy of those ingredients coming together to make magic–and find “hard alcohol” anything but. And yet I’m such a control freak that as soon as I start looking forward to what I’m going to drink that night, and when, and how it’ll make me feel, I abstain for days or even weeks just to prove that I’VE got IT, and IT don’t got ME. And then, self-satisfied, I begin the cycle again.


Have you ever had a phase in your life when you drank more or less? Every week I drink more or less. Always with lofty resolutions and eternal analysis about What It All Means. “I’m entitled to pleasure.” “I could learn so much by stopping drinking and noticing what I miss.” “I’ve had a hard week/month/hair day.” “I could have 200 calories of Ben & Jerry’s instead.” Etc. Etc. Etc.

What’s your drink of choice? Why? Yesterday: the glorious, understated, quietly superlative Hendricks martini. Today: the mysterious, smokily seductive Bulleit Manhattan, with the faintest hint of maraschino red dye #2. Hendricks makes me feel wealthier than I am. Bourbon makes me feel rougher and tougher than I am. I need to be both.

Can you tell us about the best time you ever had drinking? I’ve never had a best time drinking. I’ve had best times with my best girlfriends centered on the ritual of Mixmistressing The World’s Best Cocktails and then giggling over the conversations that flow, unimpeded by sobriety.

What about the worst time? I have been Too Drunk about three times in my life. Too Drunk for what, you ask? Too Drunk to make the room stop swirling. Fortunately, I drink only at night, when a swirling room has little impact on my productivity.

Has culture or religion influenced your drinking? Yes. I had an alcoholically disadvantaged childhood. My parents didn’t drink, so I had to seek out role models and learn to drink on my own. Poor, poor me.

Do you have a favorite book, song, or movie about drinking? I can only assure you that it’s not “Margaritaville.”

If you could be any drink, what would it be? Why? I’d be an icy, confident, elegant martini in my professional life, and an earthy, smoking hot Manhattan (I AM a Manhattan girl, by birth and by temperament) in love.


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