Published by Parcbench on November 22, 2011:
I recently had the pleasure of reading Drinking Games and Other Storiesby author-comedian-filmmaker Brian Scott Mednick, and subsequently interviewing him about his work on the November 17 edition ofWritestream. As a fellow contributor to Parcbench, I’d already been very familiar with Brian’s excellent commentary and his biography of Gene Wilder entitled Gene Wilder: Funny and Sad, released in December, 2010.
A collection of individual stories about colorful residents of Manhattan that vary from poignant to heart-breaking to humorous, Drinking Games was one of those books I completed in one sitting, entirely captivated by Mednick’s ability to weave a tale and elicit a multitude of emotions. And while native New Yorkers will undoubtedly identify with the real-life settings like Ryan’s Irish Pub, Empire Szechuan and Madison Avenue, all readers — irrespective of their birthplace, geographical upbringing, or current place of residence — will relate to the ubiquitous human foibles, emotions and situations on display throughout Drinking Games.
As the title suggests, alcohol plays a considerable role in the lives of the characters, mainly as a means of avoiding pain, drowning sorrows and underscoring the depths of their unique and oftentimes tragic circumstances.
For example, there’s the story of Leroy a once very successful, distinguished black gentleman who in spite of his homelessness, presents himself to the world as a dapper, high-class member of society — albeit with a love for the bottle. He draws a 22 year-old grad student into his world one night at the bar, thus instigating an unusual yet strong bond of friendship culminating in an inevitable and tragic end, one that offers valuable lessons for the student.
Then there’s the outwardly successful, ultra-modern “Older Woman” who in spite of her better judgment, instigates a sexual relationship with a young guy and fellow subway rider 20 years her junior, which ultimately and predictably ends in heartbreak. Her story begins with her slumped over the toilet in a drunken stupor, a victim of her own misguided decisions.
In the story of Don and Betty, we find quiet desperation in a husband who truly loves his wife but struggles to cope with her lack of interest in physical intimacy and his inability to articulate his frustrations in an attempt to reach a resolution. One night while drinking with his oldest buddy Bob, he finally confesses the reality of his marital situation, much to Bob’s surprise since he — like most of Don’s peers — had always regarded the marriage of Don and Betty as model to which all couples should strive. Bob’s solution is to whip out the card of a “discreet” local call girl named Lisa who in his estimation is a much better solution than “any damn therapist”. Initially shocked and repulsed by such a notion, by the time the story ends Don’s frustration has reached such a level of intensity as to compel him to dial the number. “Hello Lisa..?” the short tale ends, leaving it open-ended as to whether Don follows up on his impulses.
Overall, Drinking Games is an engaging, thought-provoking read that will resonate with all readers who have ever suffered the consequences of bad choices, struggled against the foibles of human nature and strove to overcome life’s obstacles — from broken hearts to unfulfilled promises to unrealized dreams. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll relate to Brian Scott Mednick’s believable characters and unvarnished dialogue.
Get your copy of Drinking Games today — and don’t forget to purchase one for all of the readers on your holiday gift-giving list!