Most helpful positive review
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Touched a personal note with me
on July 20, 2009
This is my first Joe Queenan book. I'd like to read more.
Closing Time is not refreshing, nor is it delightful. Anyone who has had to deal with an alcoholic in the family can relate to the author's love-hate relationship with his father. Other reviews have chastized Queenan for being self-serving and of not seeing any good in his father. Quite the contrary, I think Queenen does a good job of trying to find some good to wrap around his father's memory. It is obvious that Queenan owes his love of language and reading to his father, and gives him credit for such. And in a perverse way, Queenan's retreating into books as an escape became, in part, his salvation.
The book holds a particular interest for me. I grew up in that neighborhood about 10 years before Joe. I left just as the neighborhood began to change, in the early 60's, but this book rang true to the personalities, the sounds, the catch-phrases, and the mind set of the place. As a Protestant, I remember being very jealous of the Catholic girls at St.Benedict's because they got to wear white dresses and veils for the May procession. I can also remember my mother chastising me for walking home from school with a "colored boy", and telling me to be carefule of Eye-talians". As appalling as that sounds now, it was what it was.
Some reviewers seem to take offense that Queenan is so hard on his father, only assigning blame. I wonder what book they were reading. I think the author gives quite a number of people in his life credit for having set him on a track other than the one he might have traveled. That includes his father. Is he bitter, and can he be scathing with respect to some of his father's peccadillos? You betcha, but having lived with an alcoholic parent, I can relate. My impression is that the very exercise of writing this book was a catharsis. Reading it has been the same.
This has not been an easy book for me to read; I usually whip through a book in a day, but I'm trying to make this one last. The author's command of language is astounding, and at times a little too over-the-top. Were he in a conversation with me, I would be tempted to tell him: "get over yourself, already". On the other had, those words allow him to say exactly THE right thing -- paint the perfect picture. Use a dictionary if you need to. Glory in those words! Your English teacher would be proud of you.