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A Guide to Bars and Nightlife in the Sacred City Paperback – November 8, 2013
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"Benjamin Wachs reveals a distinctive and highly personal flair for storytelling that will engage the reader's total and rapt attention throughout. As thoughtful and thought-provoking as they are solidly entertaining, the short stories comprising "A Guide to Bars and Nightlife in the Sacred City" are highly recommended and rewarding reading."- Midwest Book Review
"The fruits of his travels blossom forth in this wonder-filled, often fanciful collection of short stories set in often gritty urban environments around the world. This "guide" is a book worthy of frequent detours of reading pleasures." - Nick Schenkel, WBAA
About the Author
Benjamin Wachs is the bar columnist for the San Francisco Weekly. His work has been published in Village Voice Media, on National Public Radio, and in numerous newspapers and magazines.
During college Wachs lived in a Buddhist monastery in India. After dropping out of graduate school, he worked as a freelance nightlife reporter for Playboy.com. Traveling around the world, he wrote about bars for money and spontaneously sang sacred music in some of history's greatest cathedrals.
This is his first collection of fiction.
Top customer reviews
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Many of thesecharacters speak about themselves in the way that people do in bars, trying to be noticed or understood, pontificating about the very things they cannot see in their own reflections - well, I mean, we all do that, but it's in chiaroscuro when liquor is flowing. It's a difficult but important display to have the good fortune to witness while sober. Memorable characters enter, make scenes, leave us hanging and wanting more. The very polished "Free Will" stood out to me. I've taken all the players home with me - though I can't recall exactly when and they never called though they said they would. I have a feeling they're hanging with someone more fun.
There's something very interesting about peeking into slices of others' lives through the personae they have on display in watering holes. It's partly pure act people put on, and partly more intimate than many manage to allow in their deepest relationships - the booze and anonymity acting like an invisible confessional. Can you blame them? Who hasn't had a passing thought that bottles of many colors, stacked neatly in their chaos look just like a stained glass bricolage of despair, loneliness, desire, and vice in general. But just as most of us have visions of genius in our dreams and roll over, hitting the alarm snooze while letting them slip away, so do we order another round and forget about the Sacred City and it's secrets in shadows, sacrifices to egos, screaming out about others' egos and self-immolation.
I'm just glad someone was taking notes.
I don't exaggerate when I say: I wish there were more writers like this. I love his unwavering commitment to the strange and unreal, his economy with words, his open, unironic sense of wonder. He lets the uncanny be uncanny (even if his narrators try sometimes to be sarcastic about it), he lets his stories end still buds in the readers mind, trusting that they will flower in those brainpans given just a bit of time.
That sense of wonder which sometimes (all the time?) borders on the religious is something I see in older literature and something I find starkly lacking in much of contemporary literature. This book keeps that little flame burning.
If you'd like to be delighted, if you'd like to be unmoored for just a few pages from your mundane existence, if you'd like something to think about--read these stories.
'"I understand perfectly," says the man in white.'
And if you want to know any more about that, you'll have to read the book ;)
As the preface says" if God is in all of us then there is more divinity in a city of 10 million souls than there is in Stonehenge, the pyramids, or a sliver of the true cross".... it is a book that speaks to the magic of social interaction. In this way, it is a book that I have found is best read in public, in your favorite crowded bar (of coffee shop or wherever). There is something about being transported to Wach's unique scenery and absorbed into these other realms while being in the midst of bustling humanity that gives it a whole other level...