Indulging in Literary Spirits

What’s with various print media developing food and drink equivalents to literary writers, books, and characters? New Yorker’s The Book Bench and The Guardian’s BooksBlog do it. Every week, Lit Spirits, a weekly feature for Book Bench, employs their “resident mixologist” to “pair cocktails with characters from literature.” And the Guardian, similarly, has actively engaged commenters in a debate as to what type of coffee Turkish novelist and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk would be.

The idea is astonishingly frivolous for such intellectual and journalistic forums. My first thought pegged this exercise an attempt at attracting younger, internet-savvy crowds to the blogs of established news sites. But after reading the latest Lit Spirits in which Holden Caulfied’s drink is determined the “Sparkling Sunset”–a tequila sunrise topped with champagne of all things–it seems more likely the contributors are simply indulging, delightedly, in the unexpected benefits of new media. Through blogs, it is now acceptable for these enviably accomplished writers to engage their seriously nerdy side without the pressure of continuously producing high-minded criticism or scholarly commentary. Because what true book nerd doesn’t take pleasure in certain low-brow readerly indulgences? For example, I used to read up on Harry Potter blog sites…often.

Each Lit Spirits post is accompanied by a detailed description of the drink and an analysis as to why it fits the selected character: “Unbeknownst to Holden, he has set course for the mythical land of authenticity, a state of presence that has underpinnings in Heidegger, and uber-underpinnings in the Buddha. This well-made cocktail, with its painstakingly assembled ingredients, is the perfect first step on his journey.” In other words, although Salinger’s discontented adolescent would surely label the very idea of a cocktail pure phoniness, the metaphor holds strong for these giddy book bloggers. Personally, I’d avoid the hangover.

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