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Bonk's Bar Paperback

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Bonk's Bar + Under a Blue Flag + Dark Currents
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hawser Press (June 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 098159591X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981595917
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #810,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


BEHIND BARS. Tom Bonk, unwillingly taking over the family business from his deadbeat, absentee father, starts off with little but regrets. "My first thought was of my fellow college students who watched too many episodes of Cheers and thought owning a bar was a great way of life," the hero of Daniel Putkowski's Bonk's Bar narrates. "To them it was a never-ending stream of witty jokes, impossible love affairs and plenty of cash to support it all. Maybe there were places in Philadelphia that were like that. Bonk's Bar wasn't." Bonk does his level best, though. With more than a little Horatio Alger bootstrapping, he sets aside his college education, gets behind the rail and consoles himself with a cash business and crash coursework at the Univer­sity of Life. And Bonk's Bar, much like its Port Richmond model, turns itself around with neighborhood grit and crab-and-a-beer specials. Putkowski's story keeps its focus steadily on Bonk's learning curve. There's a little desperation and some heavy foreshadowing, some hassles from the law and the mob, a stack of debts and a handful of domestic disputes. But even with a real-life model at Richmond and Tioga, the bar's story is entirely Bonk's, and his hard work and good character provide the key ingredients in transforming a watered-booze dive into a packed draw, and a callow college kid into a businessman. --Justin Bauer, Philadelphia City Paper

About the Author

Daniel Putkowski divides his time between Philadelphia and the Dutch Caribbean isle of Aruba. His first novel, An Island Away, went on to become the #1 bestselling book in Aruba in 2008. He is a graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.

More About the Author

In 2008, Daniel Putkowski's debut novel, An Island Away, became the #1 bestselling book in Aruba. The island boasts the most repeat visitors in the Caribbean and those loyal fans quickly made the book a favorite among Arubaphiles. This popularity prompted a 30-date, year-long book tour. The novel is still generating positive reviews and press. The 2010 edition of Aruba Nights Magazine says, "An Island Away is an insightful tale of Aruba's refinery heyday and a great beach read."

Putkowski's second book, Bonk's Bar, is based on an establishment of the same name in the Port Richmond area of Philly. Philadelphia City Paper wrote, "Putkowski paints his version of the place as the quintessential river ward tappie, a place to watch the boys swing for the fences while drowning the day in suds and Jameson. File it under realistic fiction."

Universal Coverage, Putkowski's third novel, takes on the health care debate in the United States. Putkowski turned to fiction to highlight what medical services might look like in America's future. The book received rave reviews from former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, editor-in-chief of Forbes Magazine Steve Forbes, and many others.

In 2011, fans of Putkowski's first book, An Island Away, were able to enjoy the long-awaited sequel, Under a Blue Flag. The author's latest book, Dark Currents, is a thriller that was inspired by the disappearance of Maryland woman Robyn Gardner in Aruba and the resulting media attention on the lone suspect, Gary Giordano. CNN Anchor/Correspondent Martin Savidge said of Dark Currents, "Take it from someone who was there, Putkowski takes fact and wonderfully weaves it into a captivating tale of what if."

A graduate of New York University's prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, Putkowski lives with his wife and cat in Philadelphia and Aruba. A private pilot, he blogs regularly about flying, his travels, and the writing life at The Bent Page. To learn more, visit or "LIKE" the author at

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 8 customer reviews
This author is a very talented and entertaining storyteller!
Diane Ingram
Especially great if you're looking for a fun summer beach read at the Shore!
Sandra J. Zeiset
I highly recommend both books and look forward to Putkowski's next.
Donald M. Fellows

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Diane Ingram on September 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
I got into the story of Bonk's Bar very quickly, and it kept my attention throughout. It's about how life can take a sudden turn and lead you into a new direction for which you may be unprepared. You go through the whole adventure with Bonk, and it makes you wonder what you would do if life threw you an unexpected curve. There are numerous surprising twists and turns and a mystery to solve along the way.

For someone who doesn't read this kind of genre, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I pre-ordered the book because I had read "An Island Away" and wanted to read more from the same author. This book surprised me because it had a different style, but like Daniel Putkowski's other book, it also had great characters that were drawn very well. It made you want to know more about all of them, and it pulled you into the story which moved along swiftly. This author is a very talented and entertaining storyteller!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By James N Simpson on November 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best stories I've read in a while, I've already ordered Putkowski's debut novel An Island Away and will keep an eye out for his next Universal Coverage as Bonk's Bar was that good! Putkowski really knows how to narrate a story through an exceptionally well written everyday guy type character. Even though there is no way I would ever run a bar, through Tom Bonk's recount of those events, you can picture yourself in his shoes and ask yourself, what would I do?

Basic plot of Bonk's Bar is Tom Bonk was on track to reach his dreams, he's in a good college and can see himself as a rich man in a few years after graduation. However his older brother and dad's clear favourite John is killed while serving in Iraq and his dad seems to have gone walkabout. Tom lives with his father above his father's bar and knows if he doesn't get down there and run it until his father returns they'll both loose everything. The bar's locals have always viewed Tom as a bit of a wuss, as did his father who was one day going to hand the bar over to John, but Tom knows he's got what it takes to turn the bar around. It soon becomes apparent how irresponsible his father was with the bar and it's employees. Even if John had returned he wasn't going to inherit anything but debt and problems. Tom also learns of the ridiculous interest his father is paying on his gambling debts to a mobster whose introduction was to punch him in the head.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Diane M. Protivnak on June 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
Best/Worst of Times: In his latest novel, Bonk's Bar, Putkowski takes the reader to the Philadelphia neighborhood of Port Richmond where a college student, Tom Bonk, suddenly finds himself operating his father's bar. It wasn't supposed to be this way but Tom's brother John who was supposed to inherit the bar, is killed in Iraq. Tom wants to make lots of money, get a college degree, and buy a penthouse in the sky, but there are a lot of obstacles in the way, including his gambling father, a Russian mobster, a clever groupie, and more. Tom does his best by turning his dad's bar into a sort of neighborhood roadhouse and even plays keyboard with the house band. That's the best of times for him. Then his Russian nemesis keeps asking for more money while his favorite bartender falls victim to cancer and his tenant slowly reveals miserable secrets of her own that will pull Tom ever closer to the brink. But Tom Bonk is made of the same stuff as his Marine Corps sergeant brother and he never surrenders. There are scenes in the book so real that the hair will stand up on the back of your neck even as you're cheering for Tom to make it over the top. If you like crime books with great characters and solid plots, Bonk's Bar is for you.
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By T. Rowe on February 24, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An entertaining read perfect for the beach. The author knows the Philadelphia (or most anywhere) bar scene, but the choice of musical taste is off target.( "The Doors"?) But it is an overall good book.
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