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In the Drink

3.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  728 Ratings  ·  98 Reviews
In this compassionate, wise, and comical debut, Kate Christensen gives an engaging and authentic voice to a new generation of single urban women.

Claudia Steiner never intended for her life to become such a disaster.At the age of twenty-nine she finds herself serving as secretary to an insane, aging socialite who barks orders from her toilet, specializes in devastating back
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 1st 2000 by Anchor (first published May 4th 1999)
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The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty  SmithBreakfast at Tiffany's by Truman CapoteExtremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Tales of New York City
343rd out of 1,016 books — 934 voters
Bongwater by Michael HornburgIn the Drink by Kate ChristensenFrench Milk by Lucy KnisleyThe Crazy School by Cornelia ReadYou're Not You by Michelle Wildgen
Reading Rants! Slacker Fiction
2nd out of 16 books — 5 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,402)
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Jul 27, 2008 Jen rated it it was ok
Shelves: airplane-books
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.
Jan 29, 2012 A rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2012
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
Sarah B.
Jul 14, 2014 Sarah B. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-library
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
Jun 10, 2009 Allison rated it liked it
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
Sep 11, 2013 Laurel-Rain rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 03, 2008 Ellen rated it really liked it
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
Feb 07, 2008 Allison rated it it was ok
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.
Sep 10, 2007 Katie rated it liked it
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
Oct 21, 2012 Lauren orso rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2012
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.
Dec 15, 2014 Elizabeth rated it liked it
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
Feb 25, 2015 Erin Eileen rated it it was ok
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 it was ok
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.
Oct 30, 2007 Elyssa rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Jan 05, 2008 Jennifer Sullivan rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for book on drinking. It really fell short.
Aug 13, 2015 Robert rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A friend of mine from business school gave me this book just after graduation. She was moving back to New York and was apparently trying to get rid of some bulk before the drive. Maybe she didn't have room to pack it. I don't know. Anyway, that was 14 years ago and I had not opened the book until a couple of days ago when I started to read it. I noticed that there was a dedication from one of her friends who had given her the book as a going away gift. It made me feel bad that I had this book th ...more
Dec 02, 2009 Mary rated it really liked it
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
Oct 08, 2011 Bobbi Woods rated it liked it
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.
Feb 10, 2011 Kelly L. rated it did not like it
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
Jul 29, 2012 Nora rated it really liked it
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
Apr 05, 2016 Debi rated it it was ok
Sample sentence: "The air held me wetly in its mucilaginous grip; I felt as singular, thin-skinned and swollen with humors as a yolk." I'm sorry, but what??
Kristy Christensen
Mar 04, 2016 Kristy Christensen rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. I like looking into how others live even if this was fiction. An interesting cast of characters. Not sure about the ending, though. It really didn't have one
May 11, 2013 Teresa rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Jun 19, 2016 Hillevi rated it liked it
ögonblicksbild, ganska bra. jag hade förväntat mig ett moraliserande slut men det kom inte och det är ju alltid skönt.
Jan 20, 2008 Emily rated it really liked it
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?
Mar 15, 2014 Rachel rated it it was ok
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 it was ok
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
Dec 13, 2014 Kristen rated it it was ok
Oct 11, 2012 Dawn rated it it was ok
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.
Jan 11, 2009 Karyn rated it liked it
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.
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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.
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