Drink With Shane MacGowan by Shane MacGowan and Victoria Mary Clarke.
Memoir, 2001. 360 Pages. Grove Press- When Shane MacGowan parted
ways with the Pogues, it was for me the end of one of my all-time favorite
people said that the stuff the Pogues came out with after his departure
was good, but I didn’t even bother to listen to it.
Shane was the heart and soul of that band, possessing a unique
charisma and one of the coolest voices I’ve ever heard.
As time has passed, that voice has gotten raspier and more slurred,
but has remained one of the most expressive in music.
Before I read this book, I was a bit worried that his mental
capacity had deteriorated along with his speech, but I was wrong.
The guy is still fuckin’ brilliant.
Drink With Shane MacGowan is told via a series of transcribed,
booze-fueled conversations between Shane and his wife, Victoria Mary
like this format because it makes you feel like you’re sitting right
there with them as Shane espouses on anything and everything.
As with most long conversations, things can ramble a bit and the
topics aren’t all incredibly exciting (for me the parts about old Irish
politics and old Irish poets dragged a bit), but by and large, Shane keeps
things lively and interesting.
The parts I liked best include his freewheeling childhood with his
Irish relatives that saw him drinking and gambling from the age of 5, his
early years as “a face” in the burgeoning London punk scene, and
Shane’s thoughts on his favorite and least favorite aspects of his own
Victoria does a nice job asking Shane provocative
questions, and she doesn’t hesitate to call him on suspect answers.
Sometimes he flounders a bit, sometimes he ignores her and
continues to ramble, but most times he comes up with something pretty
what makes this such a fun read is that he seems to have a strong opinion
There are consistent themes, like Irish Catholic Working Class =
good and most things English = bad, but he surprises you with things like
his own personal take on religion and how he felt about the early punk
Victoria also doesn’t shy away from potentially sensitive
subjects like Shane’s legendary drinking and his commitment to a loony
think the only question I would’ve asked that she didn’t would be if
the horrific state of his teeth ever causes him physical or mental pain.
After reading this book, I’d expect the answer to that question
to be introspective or outrageous, and also most likely pretty funny.
Or maybe I’d just end up with a punch in the face.
Pick up A Drink With Shane
MacGowan, find yourself a nice quiet pub and spend an afternoon
devouring this fine book.
Then make sure you get wildly drunk, piss as many people off as
possible, and eventually get tossed out because people can’t handle your
Shane would approve. –Ben Hunter