Top positive review
11 people found this helpful
This book accomplished what I always wanted to
on February 14, 2004
I've never written a review for a book I've read on Amazon before, but I felt compelled to do so here. I was given this book for Christmas by two separate people, probably because I'm a bartender myself. Let's face it, a bartender's memoir isn't exactly to be read as the apex of literary accomplishment, so I'm not sure why people can be so aghast at Behind Bars' few flaws. Wenzel has captured exactly what it's like to serve drinks to a vast myriad of people (drunks, suits, etc.), with such an honest verve that I felt as if I were sitting in front of her listening to the anecdotes on a really busy night. Her writing is raw and extremely fun. The Islamic bent from which she comes from was an interesting facet of the mix, too. This book isn't War & Peace, but it is really fun and, for me and many other bartender's I've loaned out to, quite representational. I don't think many of my customers know that I'm using "sex appeal" to keep them coming back for more. In fact, I think they are under the impression that I really am riveted by everything that comes out of their (most of the time) drunken rants. But I'm not. And Wenzel explains this, and why. I think raving drunks won't like this book because it reveals their weakness too much. Wenzel does NOT sugar-coat anything.
Her poignant and sometimes harrowing narrative was very intimate for me, and I wished I'd visited her on my last trip to New York (back when she was still tending bar on the Bowery). We could have commiserated together and laughed at it all. I await her next work eagerly, which I read about on her site.
Overall, not pretentious like some other "insider" books I've read, fun and very revealing.