Dear Reader,

I just read this great article in my hometown paper about some genius folks who are opening a micro vodka distillery.

They have become my favorite people today.

So in celebration of my future patronage of the distillery, I’ve put together a reading list that I think pairs well with vodka. Notice there aren’t any Russian novels on this list. It’d be too obvious to go down that road. So 5 non-Russian novels to read while sipping on your favorite vodka drink.  You’re welcome.

1.) Galveston, Nic Pizzolatto

This ain’t a champgne over brunch type book. It’s gritty and just the opening lines makes the reader want to take  shot of the good stuff.

“A doctor took pictures of my lungs. They were full of snow flurries.

When I walked out of the office all the people in the waiting room looked grateful they weren’t me. Certain things you can see in a person’s face.”

The character speaking is a hit man realizing that the end was nigh. It kinda is because his boss wants him dead and has a hit out on his head.

If that isn’t a bad day, I don’t know what is.

This book has grit and set again a noir background and a story of redemption.

If the author’s name sounds familiar it should. He is the writer and creator of True Detective. Parts of the series remind me so much of Galveston (book, not place).

2.) Anything by Christa Faust 

Christa was a recommendation from a twitter friend. When I read her I wondered by more people didn’t know about her!

She is pulp, noir goodness wrapped in dark head-tilting narratives. I’ve read Foot Job and it’s exactly what you think it is. Women are dames, dudes are cats, and secrets are never skin deep.  That,at least, deserves a vodka martini.

3.) The Havana Room, Colin Harrison

You’d think this would be a rum type of novel but there is nothing palm trees and cigar about it.

The Havana Room is  considered by writer Sherman Alexie as an underrated novel. I agree and wondered by this book didn’t get it’s due.  This is what noir is supposed to be like.

The narrative starts with a man at a crossroads — lost job (former attorney), divorce, and a downsizing. He frequents this steak house with a secret, members-only room. Once he’s able to gain access to it, things start to unravel or ravel in a different direction, depending on your point of view.

Listen, the descriptions here are gritty and rough like New York. It remind me a bit of Chandler, Cain, and Hammett,  and how the legacy of noir fiction can and should evolve in the modern again. Phillip Marlowe and Sam Spade would be proud.

Here’s a review from The Guardian.

4.) Savage Detectives, Roberto Bolano.

I’m going to say it, I’m not a Bolano fan. Nope. But I’m willing to give him another chance because, for some, he invented modern Latin American storytelling. Also, when I read him I don’t think I was totally ready for him.

However, I knew I needed a drink while reading it. It starts off innocently enough until Bolano drives the narrative off a cliff, in a good way, asking his readers to trust him.

Again, not a fan but I can see how others could be a fan. I’m willing to give it another shot, but this time with drink in hand.

5.) Half Blood Blues, Esi Edugyan

If you don’t know about Esi Edugyan, you need to get on your reading game. Seriously. She is fire.

Jumping from Nazi occupied France and Berlin to modern day Baltimore, Edugyan seeks to answer whether the past can remain in the past or is forgiveness a fairytale.

Esdugyan’s novel was shortlisted for the  Man Booker prize 2011 and won or was a finalist in countless others. This book, along with The Havana Room, are books that I wished more people had known or read. They are worth all the hype.

Here’s The Guardian’s take which I don’t completely agree with but it makes some valid points.



There you go! Have you read a book that you think pairs well with a drink? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me

Read on,