‘I was the binge-drinking health reporter. During the week, I wrote about Australia’s booze-soaked culture. At the weekends, I wrote myself off.’ A senior journalist with the Sunday Age, Scottish-born Jill Stark had won awards for her drug- and alcohol-related health reporting. She had also been a binge drinker since she was a teenager. With her 35th birthday looming and after having welcomed 2011 with the mother of all hangovers, she begins a serious evaluation of her lifelong relationship with alcohol. ‘I am sick, in every sense of the word, of being drunk.’ Inspired by Chris Raine’s Hello Sunday Morning movement—an initiative encouraging people to take a break from drinking—she signs up for a three-month stint which morphs into an alcohol-free year. Drawing on a variety of sources including statistics, interviews with friends, medical experts and a range of ‘drinking experts’, Stark examines her own love affair with alcohol in its wider context of the drinking culture in Scotland and Australia. Why does drinking and getting drunk underpin every personal and professional activity from cradle to grave? Stark tells her story with courage, honesty and humour while making an important contribution to the debate about alcohol’s place in society.
Paula Grunseit is a freelance journalist, editor and reviewer. This review first appeared in the Summer 2012/13 issue of Books+Publishing magazine. View more pre-publication reviews here.