Book Pairing of the Week: Alias Grace

I know I’ve been overusing this one for weeks now. I was hoping to be able to deliver a pairing this week with a fresh read from the weekend, either Then Comes Marriage by Roberta Kaplan or The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Now that I come to think of it, I’m on a real queer lit kick, with those two books up next on the list and Carsick just finished. Not that I’m complaining.

But this past weekend I was out of town, and I got absolutely no reading done, which is unheard of for any other vacation I’ve ever taken. Ever. The combination of it being a car ride (I don’t like reading in cars) and a whirlwind weekend of activity made cracking open the library book a complete impossibility. I didn’t think I could do a good pairing off of the little I had read since Carsick, so I’m bringing one back from the archives that I never got around to posting.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood immediately made me crave coffee. The earlier, slower chapters demanded more focus than my un-caffienated brain can provide, and the later chapters gave me chills that craved a little boost. For my coffee, I picked the darkest blend that my local coffee and tea shop had. I wanted the bitterness of the novel to reflect in the cup, and frou-frou flavorings seemed out of place when reading about a woman in prison. It’s called Northwest, which I also thought was appropriate considering that the novel takes place in Canada.

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But the main character is Irish, so I decided to give the old Irish Coffee a twist. I think I’ll call it a Canadian Car Bomb. Grace is, perhaps, a murderer, but everyone agrees that there’s something so polite about her. Indeed, she seems like the most well-behaved character from her recollections. I added a generous helping of a cheap Irish cream (again, can’t get too fancy here) and a shot of Jameson.

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The extra kick from the whiskey really brings out the novel’s dark underside. As I sipped, the three layers of coffee, cream, and kick really highlighted the various layers of Alias Grace, the suffering, the femininity, and the violence. Plus, one won’t get you drunk. Not making any promises about two or three.

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Or ten.

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