Books and Booze: Shane Crash, Forest Life


On a chilly Sat­ur­day after­noon in Jan­u­ary I trav­el to Her­mann Mis­souri to spend time with Shane Crash.  The young author grew up in Her­mann, a riv­er town that has had a renascence as a tourist des­ti­na­tion known for pic­turesque winer­ies set upon rolling hills.  He’s back vis­it­ing fam­i­ly and judg­ing from his gen­er­al aver­sion to the place, it’s not exact­ly a hap­py home­com­ing.

We meet up at Simon’s, a water­front bar to throw down drinks, chain smoke, and plan our upcom­ing pulp dou­ble-novel­la.  His call is Amer­i­can Hon­ey whiskey, also a favorite drink for Emmet, the main char­ac­ter in Crash’s debut nov­el For­est Life.  I order my usu­al, Sap­phire and ton­ic.  We set up a rudi­men­ta­ry work sta­tion at the bar, where we open up our lap­tops.  Crash, who most­ly writes at night, is decid­ed­ly slug­gish as he taps away on the out­line for Tab­u­la Rasa.

Shane and Anthony at SimonsThe bar is emp­ty, save for a few locals.  In between drink­ing and smok­ing and writ­ing, we take turns pick­ing tunes on the juke­box.  Crash flash­es a wicked smile as his next selec­tion blares out of the speak­ers:  “Straight out­ta Comp­ton, crazy moth­er­fuck­er named Ice Cube from the gang called Nig­gas Wit Atti­tudes.”  Judg­ing by their dirty look, the locals are appar­ent­ly not N.W.A. fans.

The after­noon pro­gress­es to night and the bar starts fill­ing up.  Crash begins to perk up like a vam­pire at sun­down. I’m buzzing with nico­tine and alco­hol and scram­ble to find overnight accom­mo­da­tions. The bar­tender helps me secure a room at a bed and break­fast with­in walk­ing, or rather stum­bling dis­tance.  A cute blonde and her girl­friend soon join us, where they catch up with the young author. Crash went to school with the blonde who has recent­ly returned to the area.

A DJ begins play­ing top forty hits and I dance like a mani­ac.  Crash shakes his head and groans at the Black Eyed Peas song. He despis­es pop music; it’s a won­der we are friends.

Before we know it, it is clos­ing time.  I set­tle up my stag­ger­ing bar tab and go to retrieve Crash who is fend­ing off a sul­try his­pan­ic cougar pulling him by the cardi­gan toward the door. She leaves deject­ed. We coerce our new friends into an after par­ty at my room at a bed and break­fast where I have a bot­tle of Amer­i­can Hon­ey whiskey chill­ing in the mini-fridge.  The night con­tin­ues in a cloud of smoke and a tor­rent of booze.  Crash may dis­agree, but Her­mann isn’t so bad in my book.

I invit­ed Shane Crash to pair his nov­el For­est Life with a cock­tail as part of my Books and Booze series. He writes:

A Ves­per mar­ti­ni is the cock­tail that Bond cre­ates in Casi­no Royale, he names it after his love inter­est, Ves­per Lynd, who trag­i­cal­ly dies. I find it a very fit­ting cock­tail in its par­al­lel with For­est Life, a drink rem­i­nis­cent of a great roman­tic love cut short by death. I put it into the nov­el as an amus­ing allu­sion and I found it iron­ic that Emmett would order this as his cock­tail of choice when despair­ing over his lost love, Lenai.

What fol­lows is an excerpt from For­est Life where a green ver­sion of a Ves­per fig­ures in:

We leave a gift shop with a bag of Conch shells.  Before we con­tin­ue our walk­ing, I stop off and get a few shots and a drink to go.  I con­tin­ue walk­ing with Josef, my hand filled with a green Ves­per.  A green Ves­per is a vari­a­tion of a Ves­per mar­ti­ni.  It’s an amal­ga­ma­tion of gin, vod­ka, and absinthe. I start­ed drink­ing it after read­ing about it in a James Bond book.  It warms my bones.

The sky is filled with light and the air full of songs.  The wind car­ries the aro­ma of Latakia and Fired-Cured tobac­co. The streets grow less pop­u­lat­ed.  The songs grow faint and starts bright­en as we move away from the crowd.  I began to imag­ine a  sil­hou­ette of my lost love mov­ing through the haze toward me.


Green Ves­per Recipe

  • Three mea­sures of gin
  • One mea­sure of vod­ka
  • Half mea­sure of absinth

Shake it very well unti it’s ice-cold, then gar­nish with a lemon peel.

Shane Crash is an Amer­i­can author and activist. He’s pub­lished sev­er­al zines cen­tered on alle­vi­at­ing pover­ty and home­less­ness. In 2009 he co-authored a col­lec­tion of satire and poet­ry in the short zine, Lost Thoughts. From the age of 21 to 23, Shane trav­eled the world, vol­un­tar­i­ly home­less, liv­ing out of a back­pack, trav­el­ing from city to city. In 2010 he released Trav­el Logs, a short chron­i­cle of his trav­els across the globe. His most recent­ly release is a nov­el called For­est Life.

Shane often speaks on non­vi­o­lence and social respon­si­bil­i­ty. He runs Paci­fist Army, a vol­un­teer group of non­vi­o­lent activists who raise aware­ness on var­i­ous social issues, includ­ing non­vi­o­lence and pover­ty. He’s a fan of mar­vel comics and piz­za.

Read more about Shane at his web­site,  For­est Life can be ordered from Ama­zon and oth­er online retail­ers.

¶ Despatched on Sunday, March 24th, 2013 at 2:52 pm and sorted in Blog. ¶ { ReTweet }

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