Kate Christensen: In the Drink

In the Drink: A Novel - Kate Christensen

There's always room in my life for a deeply flawed main character. Are you probably (possibly?) a talented writer who is ghost-writing a useless semi-autobiographic genre novel for someone else? Come sit here by me. Are you responding to your boss's breakdown by becoming less and less effective until she has no choice but to let you go? Tell me. Sleeping with a married man? Honey. Treating yourself to dinner out even though you only have $34 in your bank account? Mmmm hmmm. Drinking a little or maybe a lot too much? I want to hear your whole story; start at the beginning.

Christensen perfectly captured that careful boozy balance of white-knuckling it and grim denial that is the first ten years after school. This book brought back memories for me (though Claudia Steiner is both more talented and tougher than I was at her age). Specifically, it made me think of my own bug-infested first apartment, which was nasty but at the same time, something I managed to perpetuate with my own tiny paychecks. I adored Claudia, with all her mistakes, self-sabotage, bad clothes, and denial. I really wanted her to find her way, as unlikely as that seemed for most of the book.

At first I was worried that this book was going to resolve into a simple genre novel, but after the first few chapters, the plot began to get more nuanced. Other characters filled out Claudia's story and gave her depth, and even during flashbacks I felt like the pace was quickening. By the end, I was staying up late because I couldn't wait to see which way Claudia would break. I wasn't disappointed.