Cover image for Hungover : the morning after and one man's quest for the cure / Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall.
Hungover : the morning after and one man's quest for the cure / Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall.
First edition.
Publication Information:
Toronto : HarperCollinsPublishersLtd, 2018.

Physical Description:
xvi, 399 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Published in the United States by Penguin Books.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
362.2918 BIS Book Adult General Collection

On Order



As long as there have been hangovers, there have been attempts to get rid of them. The ancient Romans consumed owl eggs, the Mongolians sheep eyes, and the Syrians ground-up sparrow beaks. To this day, despite convenience-store shelves full of mass-marketed elixirs, a true antidote still eludes us. In Hungover: The Morning After and One Man's Quest for a Cure, acclaimed journalist and witty raconteur Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall explores what happens to our bodies and minds when we over-imbibe and all the ways, over time and through different cultures, that we've tried to fix it. He delves into the infamous consequences of those rough mornings experienced by the greats of the past--from Noah to Churchill to pitcher David Wells--and reveals his own personal quest to find relief, and quite possibly his own cure.

Hungover is an irresistible blend of culture, history, science, philosophy and mischievous humour. Part Simon Winchester, part Joshua Foer, part A. J. Jacobs and all Bishop-Stall, Hungover is both a lamentation and a celebration of a very human experience.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Journalist Bishop-Stall (Down to This: Squalor and Splendour in a Big-City Shantytown) explores the history and treatment of hangovers with humor and an amiable style, hindered by disorganization and gratuitous length. Believing the topic to be underexamined, he crisscrosses the globe to try "every tincture, tonic, powder, pill, placebo, root, leaf, bark, chemical and therapeutic process I could test, and then some others." The reader follows him to an IV treatment at Hangover Heaven in Las Vegas, a session with Reset (a powder-liquid mix) at the Hangover Information Center in Amsterdam, and a KrA¤uter-Herbaud (herbal hay bath) in Almdorf Seinerzeit, Austria. Intriguing minihistories include the derivation of the phrase "hair of the dog," the connection between drinking and sin, and theories regarding why glasses are clinked together during toasts. Bishop-Stall also inserts other material-experimenting with creating his own hangover cure, recreating a pub crawl from the comedy film The World's End-into an already busy book. An ingratiating writer, he can be enamored with sentences that sound good, but don't communicate much ("I became like a man scared of himself, yet undaunted by the morning"). Though perhaps well-matched to the subject, this book's shambling and loose-limbed structure mostly detracts from its focus. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

New York Review of Books Review

A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT: If hangovers didn't exist, what percentage of your life would you spend drunk It's unexpectedly hard to predict. Part of the thrill of getting wasted, after all, is knowing that you're sacrificing your future self for your present self's fun. That's the point of bad behavior. The Canadian writer and actor Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall is a fine person to write a book about hangovers, not only because he's a tenacious researcher but also because he's willing to get thoroughly torn up on a consistent basis in colorful circumstances. He gorges on single-malt Scotch in Las Vegas, swallows a dozen pints of ale in a series of English pubs, binges on tequila and collapses beside a cactus near the Mexican border, wears lederhosen to a German beer festival and so forth. Reading his chronicle, "Hungover: The Morning After and One Man's Quest for the Cure," has an effect not unlike recovering from food poisoning or slipping into a warm house on a frigid night. You turn the pages thinking, "Thank God I don't feel like that right now." Or maybe, "Thank God I'm not this guy." According to Bishop-Stall, a hangover is composed of two forces combining to form a third force of great evil, like warm water and a storm cluster smashing together into a hurricane. One of the forces is dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which is the reason the bathroom lines in bars are so long and why you wake up from a binge gasping for water. The second force is fatigue. Although alcohol sedates you, it won't permit access to the deepest levels of sleep, which is why you can pass out for hours and still wake up feeling (and physiologically being) exhausted. Identifying the cause of a problem, of course, is not the same as having an antidote. Bishop-Stall combs through reports and records, past and present, for purported hangover cures, of which there are many: stuffyour socks with green hemlock and walk around on the leaves all day, eat orange Popsicles, drink prune juice, take kudzu-root pills, have someone bury you in hay, drink charcoal dissolved in warm milk, swallow frankincense capsules. He cheerfully tests some of the more exotic remedies, like floating in a curative Austrian lake while listening to pan pipes from underwater speakers, being palpated by a strong-handed masseuse, boiling in a caldron of herbs and hooking himself up to an IV drip of electrolytes, magnesium, calcium, phosphate, vitamins and anti-nausea drugs. None of these counteract the misery of overindulgence. They do, however, yield insight when undertaken in bulk. All hangover cures belong to one of three categories. Some are palliative, like anti-nausea drugs. Others are distractive, like being palpated. Still others concentrate discomfort into a violent but circumscribed period of time, like being boiled in a caldron, as a kind of psychological purgative. The medical term for hangover is veisalgia, which comes from a Norwegian word meaning "uneasiness after debauchery." Veisalgia hints at the scrim of despair and self-loathing that is a hangover's most elusive element, and the one that resists every dispelling mechanism we can throw at it. YOU COULD PROFITABLY crop-dust a cocktail party with the factoids in "Hungover." Consider a drinking ritual, popular in the Netherlands, that involves slurping icecold grain alcohol from a tulip-shaped glass, followed by a beer chaser. The name of this ritual, kopstooje, translates as "little head-butt." The Spanish word for hangover, cruda, means "rawness." The German word, Kater, means "tomcat," presumably as in being mauled by one. Bishop-Stall even unearths an emergencyroom case report about a patient who suffered from paralysis of the arm after getting drunk and passing out with it draped awkwardly over a suitcase. This victim of "alcohol-induced crush syndrome" was saved by emergency surgery. Bishop-Stall's archival rooting-around is more interesting than his memoir throughline. Although he's a lovable narrator, he's also a pretty normal one, and his activities - planning a bachelor party, eating cheese, cat-sitting for his parents - don't always rise to the level of book material. But that's O.K. You expect a book about alcohol to ramble a little, and his commitment to the subject more than compensates. Many writers would have given up the project after urinating in a public fountain or wandering alone into a dark German forest or vomiting into a sombrero. Bishop-Stall does not. Two-thirds in, he admits that he is "pretty much drunk every night now," which suggests that the book was written in exactly the twilight zone it aims to clarify. The thing about hangover cures is that most people are simultaneously convinced they have a decent remedy (greasy breakfast sandwich, aspirin before bed) and committed to the notion that a true cure doesn't exist, because otherwise we'd all know about it. But Bishop-Stall, over the course of his journey, develops a remedy that seems to work, and he provides a precise recipe for it. When correctly assembled and dosed at the proper time (between last drink and passing out), he claims that his mixture of B vitamins, milk thistle, N-acetylcysteine and frankincense wards offa hangover's nastier symptoms. He doesn't guarantee its safety and apparently has no plans to bottle and sell it, but it's there for the testing. Booze it up, readers. MOLLY YOUNG is a contributing writer for The Times Magazine and the co-author, with Joana Avillez, of "D-C-T."



Welcome to Your Hangover You tumble from dreams of deserts and demons into semiconsciousness. Your mouth is full of sand. A voice is calling from far away, as if back in that blurry desert. It is begging you for water. You try to move, but can't. And now that call is getting louder, like a pain in your head. A headache . . . But no, oh no, this is so much more--something terrible and growing. It is like your brain has started to swell, pressing against your cranium--eyes pushing out of their sockets. You cradle your head, in shaking hands, to keep your skull from splitting . . . But in truth your brain isn't growing at all. It is, in fact, drastically shrinking. As you slept, your body, bereft of liquid, had to siphon water from wherever it could, including that kilo of complex meat that holds your messed-up mind. So now your brain, in the awful act of shrinking, of constricting, is pulling at the membranes attached to your skull, causing all this goddamn pain, tugging at the fibers of your very being. Alcohol is a diuretic. You drank a lot of it last night, and it stopped your body from absorbing water. And out with the H2O went all those other things--electrolytes, potassium, magnesium--that make your cells (i.e., you ) actually function. So that persistent call from your dried-out brain has a point: you'd better get some water! With Sisyphean effort, you raise your head. The room begins to spin. The bar last night was spinning, too, and not in a fun, disco-ball way. More like being trapped on a hellish carousel. When you closed your eyes, it just got worse--up and down, faster and faster on some devil's spinning pony. The cause of all this whirling around (apart from the booze you drank) happens to be a fish that crawled onto land 365 million years ago and became the physiological precursor to all animal life, including ours. Its fins became talons, claws and fingers. Its scales became feathers, fur and skin. And its jawbone, containing a mysterious gel that's older than time, became your inner ear, wherein today you have microscopic hairlike cells measuring the movement of that gel, sending messages to your brain regarding sound, the tilt of your head, and acceleration. And that's why the world is spinning. It is, essentially, a kind of landlocked seasickness. Booze is like a pirate. It likes adventure--to go with the flow for a while, then suddenly take command, and also stir shit up a bit, especially once it reaches your inner ear. Alcohol is much lighter than the weird old gel in charge of your equilibrium. Unable to mix, to come to terms, the booze gives chase, around and around, until your brain thinks you're spinning out of control. When this happens, your body tries to find a fixed point--a spot on the imagined horizon. Last night, when you shut your eyes, hoping for the spinning to stop, your pupils kept darting to the right--tracking a point that wasn't there. And now, the morning after, most of the booze has left your body; what remains is burnt out and broken down and escaping through your bloodstream. So now the chase in your inner ear is going in reverse, the world spinning in the opposite direction--your eyes twitching to the left this time. This is one of the reasons why police at roadside safety checks shine a light in your eyes. In observing the direction of your pupils, they should be able to tell if you are drunk, hungover, or hopefully neither. Not that you care about that right now; spinning is spinning, and you'd like it to stop. Sure, you might have drunk too much, but this part is hardly your fault. It wouldn't even be happening if that stupid old fish had contained a different gel-- or just stayed in the water where it belonged. Okay, now you're getting irritable--even a bit irrational. A lot of that has to do with exhaustion and a rebounding of stimulant. You may have passed out, but not in any restful way. Once the sedation dissipated, there was no chance of reaching those deep and deeply needed levels of sleep. As much as a hangover is dehydration, it is just as much fatigue. So even now, with the call for water like static thunder, you drop back down, thinking maybe, just maybe, you can fall asleep and dream instead of drinking in the desert. This time, though, when you close your eyes, the spinning moves downward. And now you feel your guts. At some point last night, the booze pushed right through the lining of your stomach, inflaming the cells and making hydrochloric acid--the same stuff used to peel paint and polish stone. So on top of the dehydration and fatigue, you've got a gut full of industrial cleaner. And your stomach cells aren't the only ones on fire. The rest of your organs are inflamed as well, swelling and tightening the tissues of your kidneys, your pancreas, your liver, and so on--impeding their ability to release toxins or absorb nutrients and water, even if you manage to get some down. To be fair, though, it's not just the alcohol that'll make this morning so rough. It's what your body's been doing to fight it. Your liver is central command when it comes to destroying poisons in the body. To deal with your intake of alcohol, it sent out kamikaze troops called free radicals. Mission accomplished, they should have been neutralized. If, however, you kept on drinking, the free radicals just kept on mobilizing. So you might have won the battle, but now you've got rogue killers roaming through your body, looking for fights wherever they can . . . In a desperate attempt to rein in the radicals, to regain control, your liver is kind of freaking out--and the result is a buildup of acetaldehyde. This is the same way that one of the meanest drugs ever created works. Antabuse was developed to treat severe alcoholism. When mixed with booze, it causes headaches and vomiting so extreme that even the most die-hard drinker becomes terrified of another sip. For decades, the only medical treatment for alcoholism was a prescription for instant, crippling hangover--a little taste of which you've got right now: pain and nausea until your brain stops thinking of water and begs for mercy instead. But, of course, that is all just physical; the worst is yet to come. Attempting to go fetal, you roll onto something. It feels like a fish, but it is your soul. And your squishy soul is moaning and laughing, as though you did this to yourself. Which, of course, you did. There is rarely a time that people knowingly make themselves so quickly ill as when they get drunk or high. That's part of why, as the physical effects change, the metaphysical trauma will spread. Just as the quality and quantity of the spirits consumed may dictate the physical aspects of your hangover, the spirit in which you consumed the spirits will often decide the metaphysical. It's what makes an I-won-the-Oscar/Super Bowl/lottery!-induced hangover and an I-lost-my-job/girlfriend/a-thousand-bucks-at-the-blackjack-table hangover feel so very different. The one you have now is the latter kind. And eventually the pain and nausea will be a welcome relief from the thoughts swirling around in your head like antediluvian gel, or goddamn desert demons: You've squandered your potential. And another day of your life. You'll never find another girlfriend. You probably have liver cancer. And will end up dying alone. But right friggin' now, you just need to throw up. Welcome to your hangover. Excerpted from Hungover: The Morning after and One Man's Quest for the Cure by Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.