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The Tender Bar: A Memoir Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 31, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
It is nearly impossible to pin down one theme Moehringer's memoir is about: Fatherless boys? Working class moms trying to make ends meet? The search for a father figure in a crowd of bartenders? The genesis of a journalist, of a writer? The life of a blue-collar Yalie? Determining one's purpose in life? An intense character study of men in a bar? The rebellion of a son against his mom's intense love and support? Society's love affair with alcohol? In the end, this memoir is all of this and so much more, told in marvelous prose.
The author biography in the back jacket flap reveals that Moehringer is a Pulitzer Prize winner and national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. These facts will help buoy the reader when our author is failing out of Yale, failing at life, or struggling to get promoted beyond his hard-won copyboy position at the New York Times. Moehringer searches for purpose, reason, motivations, and positive reinforcement (other than from his mother). He especially struggles with his unpublished novel, which he worked on for close to a decade (and which I suspect became the basis for his memoir, since the novel was reportedly largely autobiographical).
This is one of those books one needs to own, for the underlining of critical passages and literary references to review again later. Be prepared to get intimate with the tough, ruddy-faced bartenders and barkeeps of Publicans (especially Uncle Charlie, who I have known in another body in my own life), and to put Steve's bar on the list of places to visit before you die.
In Manhasset, the place to go was Dickens (later renamed Publicans) on Plandome Road. Like the pubs of old, it was the place to celebrate, commiserate and pontificate. Sooner or later, everyone wound up at its door, thanks largely to its kind and commanding owner, Steve. In the mid-seventies, J.R. Moehringer was an adolescent badly in need of a father figure. His dedicated mother worked as many as three jobs to keep them on their feet. His grandparents were concerned but somewhat distant; his grandfather was downright abusive to everyone except little J.R., who was so named after his father, a radio disc jockey who has little to do with his son. Moehringer listens to his late-night radio broadcasts and refers to him only as "The Voice," a far away, unknowable being who flits in and out of his young son's life only briefly.
When he and his mother move to Arizona for better prospects and to be near their cousins, he finds himself lonelier than ever. His mother decides to send him back to his grandparents in Manhasset for the summer, and soon he gets his first taste of life around the bar. His Uncle Charlie, at his mother's request, starts taking little J.R. with him on excursions to the beach and to ball games, all of which culminate with a visit to "the Bar."
Finally, he finds what he has been looking for --- a family, albeit an unconventional one. Who wouldn't want to glean all he can from guys named Bobo, Joey D. and Colt?Read more ›
"Wow" is not a strong enough word for this insight into humanity.
Maybe because of my friendship with McGraw, my growing up in taverns in southern Illinois, my over thirty years of international bartending and my over 5,000 Beverage/Literature library I might be a little more inclined to like this work that uses a drinking establishment as a vehicle to tell a story of growing up.
Moehringer reminds me of Pete Hamil, Art Buchwald and Malichi McCourt but with a more modern honesty for putting his gonads and family disruptions on the bar for all to see. Hopefully in another book my long list of questions about what happened to the great folks in his story will be answered.
Boy, did this old St. Louis bartender identify with Uncle Charlie.
If you are in the liquor industry or have ever been associated with saloons you will have one of your best reads in many, many years.
Thanks J.R., I'm waiting for your next books.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I throughly enjoyed reading this well written memoir. I liked it's frankness, openness and the style of writing. I would recommend it as a good read.Published 29 days ago
Extremely well written, heartwarming and funny memoir/coming of age tale.Published 1 month ago by Stuart M. Bluestone
This book starts out really solid. It's about a kid who finds father figures in men in a bar. It sounds ominous, but compared to what he has, they are an excellent substitute. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Chrissy Faught
Beautiful writing. At some points with all the drinking references it seemed a little slow but mostly I didn't want it to end. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Sissyduck22
A well written memoir the nick names for all the characters in the Patrician really captured their personalities.Published 2 months ago by Maryon Parnes
One of the best books I've ever read. Beautiful and often hilarious memoir. I looked forward to coming home to it each night. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Nickolas Agency
This is not the usual book I'd read, as I'm not too much into biographies, but the story is told in such a beautiful way, and without any intent of self-promotion or lecturing,... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Chema Ballarin