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In the Drink

3.18 of 5 stars 3.18  ·  rating details  ·  658 ratings  ·  94 reviews
Combining sly humor with an urban edge, Kate Christensen's In the Drink tells the story of a resolutely clear-eyed young woman who makes a complete mess of her life, and lives to tell the tale.

The novel's heroine is the smart, pretty, underemployed, and single Claudia Steiner, personal secretary to Genevieve del Castellano, a terrifying, glamorous semi-lunatic who has it i
ebook, 288 pages
Published September 28th 2011 by Anchor (first published May 4th 1999)
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I read the whole book, so that says something. The narrative is enough to keep you in the book, but the characters were flat and cliche and the story has been done. It was interesting that the end doesn't really resolve anything. But, by halfway through the book I was so tired of Claudia (the main character) and her sorry for herself self that can't pull it together I wanted to slap her. Those are not the kind of young, urban female characters that I want to see.
Sarah B.
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 ...more
Claudia Steiner's life is like a train wreck. She has a dead end job as a secretary for a crazy and aging socialite who is a bestselling author; in actuality, Claudia ghostwrites the books for a mere pittance. She doesn't make nearly enough to pay her numerous bills, including her rent in a ridiculously roach-infested Manhattan apartment. At twenty-nine, it is starting to look as if she won't make it after all. Her own writing dreams might not come true.

She struggles to get through her days, bar
Your likelihood of enjoying this book seems fully predicated on whether it happens to be the right book at the right time for you. A good test is to skip to a seminal moment of crisis in the novel, about 200pp. in: the main character has had a truly awful day, and then comes home to find that she's run out of toothpaste, shampoo, toilet paper, and coffee -- all at once. It's not the life changes that break her but that sudden, stupid, annoying coincidence that leads her to faceplant in her bed a ...more
She's the friend of a friend and that friend sort of recommended this to me. It depressed me because it described my life at the time perfectly and it was like reading my own journals. Which either means that I should be making whatever money she made off of this piece of crap or that she's awesome (and I'm a total slacker for getting my journals published). But I didn't really feel awesome after reading this. Depressing.
I actually really liked this book, but mostly because I could so easily relate to it at this point in my life. It was one of those "perfect timing" books. The protagonist, Claudia, is frustrated with her life in NYC. She lives in a shanty of an apartment; she eats, drinks, and spends money irresponsibly; she is pining after her male best friend who she is sure does not feel reciprocal interest; and most of all, she is terribly dissatisfied with her work. Her feeling of futility with life comes t ...more
Jun 03, 2008 Ellen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ellen by: NPR
Like many first novels, In the Drink feels a little formulaic (just a tiny bit) and a little less accomplished than later works by the same author. That said, even here Christensen creates a strangely sympathetic, chronically down-on-her-luck heroine and recreates a lovingly and closely observed New York City in the sunset days of the 20th century. As Claudia Steiner struggles with a hopeless mountain of debt, soul-sucking underemployment, unrequited love, and, yes, a creeping but unmistakable d ...more
After Maud Newton came down heavy this summer on Kate Christensen book recommendations, and because she's coming to read soon, I decided to give her a whirl by reading two back-to-back. With this one, I was hoping for something light but well written and addictive that I could ingest in a couple days. Didn't really grab me at first - par exemple, a whole page on the cockroaches in her character's Manhattan apartment? and do we have to follow her through every nap and walk across the park? - but ...more
Lauren orso
this book is about everything being terrible and the 90s and nyc in the 90s, which are three of my favorite things, so.

certainly, it was written neither for the hopeful, nor those who never checked their answering machine from a pay phone, but i'm sure those people (YOU PEOPLE) have their (YOUR) own little "books," but for the rest of us--those yearning for the female followup to 'joe's apartment'--there is this, and it is great.
This is the first book I haven't ever finished reading. Some of this is life change in that with a newborn, I just don't have the time or the brain space to read books I don't love. I love the writing and the character description - very full and real. I would love to read another book by Kate Christensen. But I can't fully get into the draw of such difficult living conditions just to live in NYC and because the characters are so real (and so unlikable) perhaps I need a few more decades between ...more
Erin Eileen
I have no idea why I read this book.

ITD is the ideal "treadmill book" as I like to call them--books that you can read while focusing a majority of your attention on something more important. Claudia, the whiny protagonist is a pain in the rear, managing to be both inappropriately aggressive and spineless at the same time.

I think the author really wanted to address Claudia's glaringly obvious alcoholism but wasn't sure how to, so she sprinkled in a few flippant remarks suggesting that Claudia mi
Muffy Kroha
Dec 05, 2007 Muffy Kroha rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not many
Didn't do justice to one of my favorite subjects- Booze- And I like cheezy chick books- but I can say not so in this case.
When I read this in my early thirties, I could still relate to the struggles of a young, single woman finding her way.
Jennifer Sullivan
I had high hopes for book on drinking. It really fell short.
I loved Christensen’s main character, Claudia. She sort of reminded me of the directionless main character in "Him, Her, Him Again" but Claudia is a little more focused at being a loser.

“Over the years, I’d begun to take a perverse pleasure in seeing just how bad my life could get before the whole thing blew and, as an interesting corollary, just how severely I could punish myself for having been so arrogant as to think that my untapped potential and vague desire to succeed were of interest to
Bobbi Woods
While procrastinating on Devil in the White City, I picked this book up at the library on my friend, Bridget's stellar recommendation of the author, Kate Christensen. Christensen is indeed a "writer's writer"--I thoroughly enjoyed her style and array of colorful characters in this book.

It's the story of a New York woman, Claudia, who works as the personal assistant and ghost writer for a rich older socialite author who somewhat mistreats her. Claudia is also at fault because she is disorganized,
Kelly L.
Perhaps I am just inclined to dislike books where I dislike the protagonist, which in this case, was a great deal. The narrator is selfish and naive and rather manipulative, and I think we're supposed to feel sorry for her plight, but I don't. I can relate to being poor and maybe having a job you don't like and unrequited longing for a friend, but... her particular case of unrequited longing feels nothing to me like a genuine want for him, but rather a kind of possessiveness. Her disgust at his ...more
I thought this was pretty entertaining with a really strong voice. I identified with Claudia a little too much for comfort sometimes and I really loved this: "Over the years, I'd begun to take a perverse pleasure in seeing just how bad my life could get before the whole thing blew and, as an interesting corollary, just how severely I could punish myself for having been so arrogant as to think that my untapped potential and vague desire to succeed were of interest to anyone but me." There was kin ...more
I found this book to be frustrating. I'm not sure if the author wanted us to feel sorry for the main character or not, but I definitely didn't. She obviously had a problem with alcohol which caused her to never achieve anything in life. Throughout the entire book she bemoaned her "fate" while watching those around her succeed, yet she never once did a thing about it. I thought there would be a breakthrough in the end, but the vague and weak ending left me feeling like she hadn't learned a thing. ...more
A quintessential work of loser lit, the genre Kate Christensen identified in this article and contributed to with her first three books, this being her very first. The plot, a young woman living in New York and working as an assistant and ghost-writer to a society woman, is pure chick-lit, but the execution is a cut above. It's got black humor, self-deprecation, and wonderfully savory--in both senses of the word--descriptions of food. What more could you want?
Kate Christensen's writing is charming, but I had a difficult time getting through this novel as it fell flat in many ways.
Rebecca eley
Jun 14, 2011 Rebecca eley rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one I know
Recommended to Rebecca by: no one
I really didn't like claudia to start with she is the sort of person you want to shake and say pull yourself together. I did warm to her a bit as the book went on though. Overall it is a bit neither here nor there. The first three quarters are a bit ooops drunk again with all progress in last quarter. Plus by end it's neither cheesy nor tragic. It kind of wants to end all hearts and flowers then does a sharp left to make up your own mind. Didn't hate it didn't love it probably wouldn't read anot ...more
I don't know. It kept me engaged, and I was hoping for something to happen...but it was a big circle. She seems to be in nearly the same place she was in the beginning. And she drinks still. So...what was the point? Still I liked it. Sort of chick lit but with words I had to look up. I liked her in a strange way and wish her well. Would like to see the book start now and go into the future about 5 years to see how it all turns out.
This rang uncomfortably true to life....

Also, Kate Christensen is an amazing writer! I randomly found a paperback copy of this at Housing Works, and am so glad I picked it up. I had the pleasure of seeing the author read from her current project later that fall at the Brooklyn Book Festival, and both events led me to read "The Epicure's Lament," finally, which I'd been meaning to read for a long time and love love loved.
I have only the vaguest recollection of reading this book - had I not skimmed the summary, I would've ruled it completely forgettable. I appear to have taken a deep dive into chick lit in the year following the completion of my degree in English. Does this surprise anyone?

It's also possible that this was a selection for one of many defunct book clubs that I attempted to organize in the last 10 years. My notes are unclear.
I'm not a confused, self-depracating, alcoholic writer in NYC but I couldn't put down this story about one! I found Claudia's misadventures and failures funny and somehow relatable. I've read Christensen's "Jeremy Thrane" (another drunk, but not nearly as fun) and "The Great Man," and this was by far the most enjoyable--I was surprised that this was the first of her novels. A good light read before bed; perfect for the beach.
It's such a depressing and sad story that most of people are likely to hate it. I was not impressed when I read it when it came out( was it 2000?). Yet, I have never forgotten the story. Interesting...

Protagonist's heartbreaking loneliness felt so true that it stayed in me for more than 10 years. For that matter, this book deserved to be praised because I read so many books and I forget most of them.
I got about half way through this book and just didn't care enough about the main character to finish. Claudia is a young woman whose life is a disaster. She hopes to become a writer, but is in a dead end job that pays her nothing. I found it hard to feel sorry for Claudia. She didn't seem to be looking for a better job and she spends her off hours going out with friends and drinking too much.
Its always great to read about someone who is bright, educated and full of talent, but can't quite seem to get it together. I also personally like a hot mess- they make me feel better. I am not too many steps away from Claudia. While I can't find a job or use for my talents and education, my cat still likes me and the prospect of drinking everyday, especially in the afternoon, is revolting.
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KATE CHRISTENSEN is the author of six previous novels, most recently The Astral. The Great Man won the 2008 PEN/Faulkner Award. She has published reviews and essays in numerous publications, most recently the New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, O, Elle, and Gilt Taste. She writes an occasional drinks column for The Wall Street Journal called "With a Twist." She lives in Portland, Maine.
More about Kate Christensen...
The Great Man Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites The Epicure's Lament The Astral Trouble

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