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Later, at the Bar: A Novel in Stories Paperback – May 20, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The 10 linked stories of Barry's first-rate debut capture the idiosyncrasies of an upstate New York backwater where social life revolves around Lucy's Tavern, founded by the late Lucy Beech, who "loved live music and dancing and understood people who liked longing more than they did love." There, a limited pool of regulars drinks nightly, has the kind of revolving recreational sex that creates complications for decades, and ruins its children: "You watch a kid like Ruby Plumadore, whose clothes never fit and who smells like cigarettes... get off the bus and... subtly gird herself to walk into her front door." There's Harlin Wilder and his twin brother, Cyrus, who are in and out of work, hung up on ex-wives and waiting for the next woman to roll into their lives when they're not drinking or getting into fights. Linda Hartley, an advice columnist for adolescent mag Sugar and Spice and for Woman Today, battles her own demons; while Harlin's ex-, Grace Meyers, still has good things to say about him. The situations are familiar, but Barry gets down to the grit of her characters and captures the plangency of a local bar that serves as de facto communal household. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Barry's debut is a Rust Belt Cheers. Set primarily in Lucy's Tavern in rural New York State (think Richard Russo country), it features a cast of nearly incestuous regulars, and Barry's linked short stories are funny. But her comedy isn't broad, loud, or pushy. No, Barry's wit is cunning and covert, sneaking up on the reader through the thicket of sorrow her characters create as they botch one marriage after another, have damaged children, go broke, drink much too much, get in fights and accidents, and land in jail. And yet what romantics they are. Confiding, bantering, and quick-tempered, the denizens of Lucy's are simultaneously in love and brokenhearted, guilty and wronged. The men are by turns brooding and reckless, including the once movie-star-handsome now rough-around-the-edges twin brothers Harlin and Cyrus. The women are valiant, especially Linda, an advice columnist who never ever tells the truth about love. Barry's remarkably natural, charming, and wise novel-in-stories is perfect for fiction lovers whose reading time is tight. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 20, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416563407
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416563402
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,934,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Peter J. Melcher on April 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is hilarious and fun. I have been in so many bars over the years, all over the world and Rebecca Barry has really captured that world at it's best and worst, without being condescending. It's also perfect beach read and my wife wants me to add that it's great for those book clubs where women get together and mostly drink wine and talk about each other's sex lives.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David Beatty on May 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I judge books by how quickly I get past page 20. With this, I couldnt put it down. Very enjoyable read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jon Hunt on May 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a treat this new book by Rebecca Barry is! Short as it may be it packs a wallop on two levels...the host of characters replete with humorous dialogue and their inter-connected emotional states. Drink is central but it's a foil for everything else.

Set in upstate New York, the people who wander in and out of "Later, at the Bar" all have some major quirks. It's like reading an entire year's worth of episodes of "All My Children". Barry's narrative sails along unencumbered as bourbon is poured, beer is guzzled, cigarettes are lit up and tattoos are shown. Oh yes, there are plenty of tattoos! Marriages come and go on short notice, men leave women for other women and other men....well the list goes on. But the author makes each character a loveable and largely complex one. The final scene, where friends of Harlin gather, (as told through the eyes of Grace) is the culmination of a book that dares to embrace the underside of life and make it appear as normal as doings in your own hometown. In the end, people take care of each other. That says it all.

Rebecca Barry has given us a classic. It is funny and warm and bound to draw you in and make you stay for a glass or two. I highly recommend "Later, at the Bar" for its wit, charm and all of its endearing qualities.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Erin McGraw on May 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Is it wrong to love a book that is a love song to drinking? If it is, then I don't want to be right. Rebecca Barry's "Later, at the Bar" is a sweetly funny portrait of the strange, fierce joy that comes from loving the wrong things--especially when those are the only things around to love. Sadness and brokenness become beautiful in the light of a bar, and while Barry is no soft-headed sentimentalizer, she knows a lot about the impulsive movements of the heart. After I read this book, I bought five more copies. Everybody should read it. Everybody should read it a lot.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Darrelyn Saloom on June 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the most entertaining collection of short stories I have read in a while. Lucy's bar is the setting for love and longing and hilarious misadventures of its hapless patrons: Rita, the attractive bartender who lives with a woman but sometimes sleeps with men; Elizabeth, a teacher, whose husband has left her for a man; Hank, who sleeps with his ex-wife, Grace, who stays in bed the next morning "in the dirty sheets, smelling like sour bourbon and cigarettes."

The row of patrons that line Lucy's bar make a wonderful cast of characters. But the beauty in this collection is Rebecca Barry's writing. She is not angry and doesn't judge her inebriated characters. She is funny and tender and loving. The light she shines in all those dark places is not the hard, florescent variety. The light she shines is bent by sunlight in what Barry describes as "lavender time between night and day when anything can happen and sometimes, at least for a little while, all is forgiven."
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By b_litz on August 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
Why did I love this book? Well, it could be the structure (connected short stories), or it could be the setting (a small town very much like the one I grew up in). But it's not. It's because I know the people in this book. No, not literally, but I know who in my small town would've marched in the hastily planned Easter Parade, who would've saved a wounded bird from a sneaky cat, and who would've found solace, if just for one night, in a dim, loud bar full of regulars and possibilities.

The strength of this collection is the utter humanity of its characters. Barry has the honesty to show their flaws, sometimes crippling flaws, and the generosity to love them anyway. You can't really ask for more from a writer. If I was forced to offer a comparison (and I'm not), I would say Barry is Richard Russo from a different direction. And I love Richard Russo.

Two of the stories have really stuck with me.

Lucy's Last Hurrah, though short, brought the bitter cold of upstate New York back to me after almost 30 years of being away. It's not a benevolent cold (crisp, clear, etc), but the kind of cold that will kill you if you aren't prepared. I found myself nodding along as I read, remembering snow drifting across the road in front of my childhood home. If you have ever lived in a place where the weather is a fundamental force, particularly cold weather, this story will resonate.

Instructions for a Substitute Bus Driver is unique in this collection in that it's told in the first person. Madeline the bus driver offers her substitute some helpful tips for handling situations on the bus as well as devastating descriptions of the home lives of the children who ride the bus, gleaned from years of pickups and drop-offs.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Myra Clarke on June 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a novel told in vignettes that could stand individually as sharply observed short stories. It's about a group of barflies who congregate at a small town, upstate New York tavern. It was a good read, sad and stupid and poignant and true, about drunks who mean well but do their best to ruin their lives. Barry compassionately writes of characters that lesser talents would find hard to write sympathetically about, weaves a compelling plot out of lives that follow predictable, pathetic trajectories into self-imposed quagmires, and sheds a soft light on the sad beauty of a dismal bar and the bleak surrounding landscape. I recommend it highly to barflies, Bukowski fans, and lovers of literary fiction.
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