Books

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Whiskey Boys

OCTOBER 2021

Praise for Whiskey Boys:

Whiskey Boys and Other Meditations from the Abyss at the End of Youth is a story about bartending and the meaning of life. In it, the author fails to pass the bar exam due to a night of debauchery that launches him on a career tending bar around the country. At first his book is a romp: a new city, a new lover, and a new bar in each chapter. Throughout the voice is winning as we might expect the voice of a charming bartender to be, full of stories and adventures as well as knowing and interesting asides about literature, philosophy, and the history of alcohol, but, as the book moves through time and the author faces the fact that he may be a “lifer” in the whiskey trade, the text darkens and he contemplates what this job that holds so little esteem in the eyes of others means. He is drawn to the Stoics, in particular Epictetus, who contended that life is brief, our ability to control it an illusion, and this one is all we have, a flicker of light between vast gulfs of nothingness. Our task is to make the most of it regardless of what society thinks. “Failure,” the author writes, “doesn’t lie in the job itself or even in how it is performed, but in how we conceive or fail to conceive of it.” Whiskey Boys is beautifully written, a joyous, heartbreaking, and in the end serious book. 

               —Steve Harvey, judge, 2021 Monadnock Essay Collection Contest, and author of Folly Beach 

What happens when Jack London and Tom Cruise (circa Cocktail) enter a bar? Naturally, over a few drinks, they discuss everything from the Whiskey Rebellion to past loves. More importantly, they tell their stories to Phillip Hurst, who is not just a great bartender and listener, he is a charming raconteur himself who uses their stories—and those of others—to tell his own. With insight, humor, and pathos, Hurst takes the reader through his intoxicated and intoxicating story, this compelling portrait of the artist as a young imbiber/wanderer. Warning: you will want to read these seventeen essays straight, as though they were shots lined up on the bar waiting to be slammed. But whatever your pace and tolerance, Whiskey Boys, like a fine bourbon, should be savored. 

           —Andrew Malan Milward, author of Jayhawker: On History, Home, and Basketball

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The Land of Ale and Gloom: Discovering the Pacific Northwest

MARCH 2022

Praise for The Land of Ale and Gloom:

The wisdom in Phillip Hurst’s Land of Ale and Gloom is both profound and accessible. Like an elite brewmeister, he concocts a remarkably refreshing balance that is at once droll and stimulating—with an aftertaste of brilliance. This is a remarkable nonfiction tour of the Pacific Northwest, courtesy of the author himself in tandem with Robert Burton's famous tome, The Anatomy of Melancholy.

                -- Rus Bradburd, author of All the Dreams We've Dreamed and Paddy on the Hardwood

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Regent's of Paris

AUGUST 2022

Praise for Regent's of Paris:

Against the backdrop of bailouts and burnout in America’s heartland, Phillip Hurst’s Regent’s of Paris is surprisingly redemptive. The desperate work lives of his cast are undercut by their forlorn faith and ragged courage. Part Glengarry Glen Ross, part Lord of the Flies, and a pinch of A Visit From the Goon Squad, this is a terrific debut novel. 

          - Brandon Hobson, National Book Award finalist and author of The Removed

In Phillip Hurst's darkly radiant Regent's of Paris the machinery of torque and muscle is fast and true. The road of life is peopled by women and men, like us, who wend their way toward a horizon whose vanishing point most often signifies the desperation of unfulfilled dreams. Hurst's novel is made of courage, more than a hint of grace, and the desire, not as uncommon as one would think, for a way home. Who can know the heart of others, who can detect the fundamental mystery of our broken lives? In Hurst's uncanny wisdom: "maybe we can only see our biggest mistakes, the mistakes we love, through another’s eyes?"

          -Shann Ray, author of American Masculine, Atomic Theory 7, and The Souls of Others