I’m the binge-drinking health reporter. During the week, I write about Australia’s booze-soaked culture. At the weekends, I write myself off.
Booze had dominated Jill Stark’s social life ever since she had her first sip of beer at 13. She thought nothing could curb her love of big nights. And then came the hangover that changed everything. In the shadow of her 35th year, Jill made a decision: she would give up alcohol. But what would it mean to stop drinking in a world awash with booze?
This lively memoir charts Jill’s tumultuous year on the wagon, as she copes with the stress of the newsroom sober, tackles the dating scene on soda water, learns to watch the footy minus beer, and deals with censure from friends and colleagues, who tell her that a year without booze is ‘a year with no mates’.
In re-examining her habits, Jill also explores Australia’s love affair with alcohol, meeting alcopop-swigging teens who drink to fit in, beer-swilling blokes in a sporting culture backed by booze, and marketing bigwigs blamed for turning binge drinking into a way of life. And she tracks the history of this national obsession: from the idea that Australia’s new colonies were drowning in drink to the Anzac ethos that a beer builds mateship, and from the six o’clock swill that encouraged bingeing to the tangled weave of advertising, social pressure, and tradition that confronts drinkers today.
Will Jill make it through the year without booze? And if she does, will she go back to her old habits, or has she called last drinks? This is a funny, moving, and insightful exploration of why we drink, how we got here, and what happens when we turn off the tap.
ABOUT JILL STARK
Jill Stark is a senior writer with The Sunday Age. She joined The Age in 2006, where she has predominantly covered health, specialising in alcohol and drug issues, mental health, and public-health policy. In 2008, she won the National Drug and Alcohol Award for excellence in media reporting with her ‘Alcohol Timebomb’ series, which investigated Australia’s bingedrinking problem. In 2011, she won again for a range of alcohol-related stories, including a first-person piece detailing her break from drinking.
Raised in Edinburgh, Jill began her journalism career in Scotland in the 1990s. She worked for newspapers such as the Daily Record, The Scotsman, and the Evening Times, before she moved to Melbourne IN 2001 where she currently lives.