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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A touching story about a truly American place
It has become almost cliche to say that modern writers make a character of the settings of their novels. But in this book, the author truly vitalizes Buffalo, N.Y. Through the novelized true story of his wife's Polish immigrant parents and details plucked from two centuries of municipal history, he weaves a story about a place that is arguably the most American of...
Published on November 7, 1998

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best work, Uneven
KIlickenborg is a great nature writer but this book about rust belt Buffalo has moments of greatness, but other chapters of tedium. His writing flourishes can be intimidating. Have your dictionary ready. If you grew up in the east side of (Polish) Buffalo you will love the hundreds and hundreds of place references throughout W NY That alone will endear you. The story of...
Published on April 26, 2012 by Clay Blasdel


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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A touching story about a truly American place, November 7, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Last Fine Time (Paperback)
It has become almost cliche to say that modern writers make a character of the settings of their novels. But in this book, the author truly vitalizes Buffalo, N.Y. Through the novelized true story of his wife's Polish immigrant parents and details plucked from two centuries of municipal history, he weaves a story about a place that is arguably the most American of cities. Situated on a Great Lake, with the belching prosperity of smokestacks and a miraculous curtain of snow as backdrops, he tells the story of a family that finds a home in industrial America. Gritty urban scenes give way to a confrontation between the races which ends in a flight to the suburbs. In "The Last Fine Time" we find the story of a family, and of a once-great city, that is a fable about American life. He answers the question of how, in 100 years, puritanical farmers became the empowered factory workers that became alienated, shell-shocked suburbanites on the edge of the 21st century.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Work About A Special and Forgotten Place and Time, March 2, 2004
By 
T. Rothrock "irgtom" (Centennial, Colorado USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Last Fine Time (Paperback)
I'm happy to see this fine work back in print. I'd strongly recommend it to anyone with an interest in post WWII America; the contributions of the working class; the decline in the U.S. industrial economy; the urban to suburban shift or anyone with an appreciation of what a thriving place Buffalo was in the post WWII period. Klinkenborg does a masterful job of weaving all of these themes together and from this reader's standpoint it's as if he was there. get your copy before it disappears from print again!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A battered queen, January 17, 2002
By 
This review is from: Last Fine Time (Paperback)
This is the best book ever written about Buffalo, the best book, fiction or nonfiction, that uses Buffalo as background. The decline of a proud city, enabled by its matter of fact certainty about destiny and greatness, is recounted with intelligence and a generous style. The sadness of change is inescapable, but people's memories, especially those of Polish Americans, create a light that still shines in the city's shadows.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, July 19, 2007
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Loves Nastenka (Lehigh Valley, PA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Last Fine Time (Paperback)
The story of a Polish-American family running a business at Sycamore and Herman Streets, Buffalo, NY in 1947. A brilliantly written record of time and place, describing the unprecedented cultural transformation of Post WW II America. Probably one of my 10 favorite books I've ever written.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If thin on plot, boundless in imagination, October 5, 2008
By 
This review is from: The Last Fine Time (Paperback)
As many of the other comments have noted, this is, overall, a beautifully written book. There is a particularly sharp sequence describing how Eddie--a young, successful, good-looking, 2nd generation Polish pub owner--was seen by the east Buffalo community as a type of fulfillment of the immigrant dream (even though, as they lamented, he did not speak the mother tongue). Klinkenborg's reverie on the matter is masterful, as his roving eye and fine ear cherry-pick details out of this largely imagined past, telling how all the mothers and daughters were eager to put their unmarried daughters on display whenever the promising young man came around.

I wish the famous "decline" of Buffalo, however, had been as well-dramatized. We do get one great chapter comparing the era to a man with one pant leg stuck in his sock--a little disheveled, trying its best to maintain appearances, secretly somehow aware of the crash that was just around the corner (the image of Niagara Falls is used similarly, as a metaphor for lurking doom, and even a certain nihilism: the Niagara River's waters flow past Buffalo, and in a sense they carry a part of Buffalo into a white abyss every second of every day). These images are wonderful as far as they go, but there must be an interesting story there to tell, about how the old Polish and young black communities struggled to co-exist on the East Side. All this--including the race riots on Buffalo's East side in the late 60s--is glossed over in a few pages. Or maybe the Poles and the blacks didn't "struggle" so much to co-exist at all: maybe there was simple hatred all around. One gets the sense reading the brief treatment of the subject that there was much about Eddie's feelings that could not be said with the decorum with which Klinkenborg feels at ease (Eddie is the author's real-life father-in-law).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captures the soul and spirit of a time and place...., June 18, 2009
By 
overeasy . (Pittsburgh, PA, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Last Fine Time (Paperback)
I have been a fan and student and lover of "the American roadside" for over 40 years. I've read a lot of books that touch on the subject, but nothing comes close to this one. The author's writing is lyrical without being sappy, and he brings to life a time and place that says much about how our nation has developed, and in some case, devolved, over the past few decades.

To me, this is THE book about the American experience, with apologies to John Dos Passos!

Ron
[...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best work, Uneven, April 26, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Last Fine Time (Paperback)
KIlickenborg is a great nature writer but this book about rust belt Buffalo has moments of greatness, but other chapters of tedium. His writing flourishes can be intimidating. Have your dictionary ready. If you grew up in the east side of (Polish) Buffalo you will love the hundreds and hundreds of place references throughout W NY That alone will endear you. The story of a tavern owner and his extended Polish family is typical. (I heard that its really his inlaws) Its uneven but probalby the best book ever written about Buffalo, NY
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Snowfall, December 14, 2010
By 
Jerry Kenney (Orlando, FL United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Last Fine Time (Paperback)
Nowhere have I read a better, more poetic, or more accurate description of a Western New York snowfall than in the opening pages of The Last Fine Time. Although the book gets somewhat bogged down in the generations, like a car gets bogged down slogging through a few feet of freshly fallen snow, and the ending becomes a sad metaphor for the downfall of a city once called (before Paris) the City of Light, this opening is a brilliant handful of pages worth the price of the whole book.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is America, May 31, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Last Fine Time (Paperback)
This rich story is a tapastry of who we are as a nation. It is our history. This book can teach us a lot about how to make our cities live again.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't Say Enough About This Book, June 27, 2008
By 
Joe "Joe" (Silver Spring, MD) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Last Fine Time (Paperback)
I started to (re-)read this book just one day before the untimely death of Tim Russert, which only made it more poignant.
I was born in that very section of Buffalo myself (near Williams St. and S. Ogden - my mother was born on Lovejoy in the Sloan neighborhood), in the '50s, close enough to the era that I recognize the author got it exactly right. My father could have been Eddie, and his father, a Polish immigrant, could have been Tom, so to me this book is more than just a history.

And from the very first line - "Snow starts as a rumor in Buffalo..." - to the end, it told honest truths.
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The Last Fine Time
The Last Fine Time by Verlyn Klinkenborg (Paperback - April 1, 2004)
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