After meeting and marrying an Irish woman and moving to Dublin, celebrated New Yorker writer Bill Barich found himself looking for a traditional Irish pub to become his local. Pubs have always been at the heart of Irish life and culture, proliferating in cities and towns alike, so Barich had no shortage of choices. But to his surprise, he could not find what he considered a classic pub; each had developed fatal flaws, be they flat screen televisions, touristy souvenirs, kitschy decor, or other accommodations to modernity. Even the pubs that looked authentic and old were often not what they appeared. All of which signalled to one of our sharpest chroniclers of culture that something deeper was at play--an erosion of the essence of Ireland, perhaps without the Irish even being aware.A Pint of Plain became a quest to chronicle the state of the Irish pub today, and by extension to examine Irish culture at a time of extraordinary change across the country. From the famed watering holes of Dublin to the pubs and shebeens (small bars within houses) in the country, Barich introduces a colorful array of personalities--from publicans to customers--whose observations are as tasty as the pints they serve and drink. He blends the history of Guinness into his story, and also explores the impact of the IPC (Irish Pub Company), which, for a fee, will help anyone create an "authentic" pub anywhere in the world. Weaving tradition and lore, literary and film references, into his narrative, Barich has written a book that will be irresistible to anyone who is Irish or who appreciates the finer points of Irish culture.

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