Customer Reviews for

The Tender Bar: A Memoir

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

15 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

A Place like Home

¿Everyone has a holy place, a refuge, where their heart is purer, their mind clearer, where they feel closer to God or love or truth or whatever it is they happen to worship¿ (8). J.R. Moehringer¿s memoir, A Tender Bar, is a captivating story about how Dicken¿s Bar in ...
¿Everyone has a holy place, a refuge, where their heart is purer, their mind clearer, where they feel closer to God or love or truth or whatever it is they happen to worship¿ (8). J.R. Moehringer¿s memoir, A Tender Bar, is a captivating story about how Dicken¿s Bar in Manhasset, New York, was his refuge. His story is one of struggle, ambition, confusion, and lost love.
Growing up without a father, J.R. seeks a male figure in his life. He creates a character out of the only piece of existence he has of his father: The Voice. It is the voice of his father on a radio station which he relies on as his ¿only connection to the masculine world¿ (17). The lack of a male figure in J.R.¿s life defines who he is and what he is seeking. The bar becomes his father, ¿it¿s dozens of men melding into one enormous male eye¿ watching over him, and guiding him through his life (8). J.R. writes about each man in the bar who impacted him. His style of narrating characters with such intricate detail and an apparent sense of appreciation makes his writing unique.
The narrative structure of J.R.¿s memoir appeals to the experiences of the audience. The chronological line of events of his life is simple. J.R. faces challenges which most readers could easily relate to. This gives his readers a sense of hope in themselves that they too can overcome their barriers.
The convincing style he writes in makes every word he says serious and important; hence, his writing is extremely powerful and emotionally involving. Along with telling his life story, he slips in meaningful lessons relating to his own experiences. One lesson involving his dedication to his fathers¿ voice is, ¿Life is all a matter of choosing which voices to tune in and which to tune out, a lesson I learned long before most people, but one that took me longer than most to put to good use¿ (17). He writes in a very simple yet effective style to get his point across.
J.R.¿s story is told out of appreciation of those who helped him get through his life. He gives greater meaning to that which most belittle or disregard. It is simply a bar he reflects on but he brings out the best of the bar and the men that inhibit it. J.R. says, ¿While I fear that we¿re drawn to what abandons us, and to what seems most likely to abandon us, in the end I believe we¿re defined by what embraces us¿ (4). The bar embraced, and in turn defined, J.R.

posted by eliz31 on October 24, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

8 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

Disappointing...

I bought this book hoping to catch a glimpse into a young man's fancy, fascination and feel for growing up in a bar. I was disappointed. Moehringer seems to have a more genuine understanding of blue bloods from his Yale years than bars. He just flat out tries too ha...
I bought this book hoping to catch a glimpse into a young man's fancy, fascination and feel for growing up in a bar. I was disappointed. Moehringer seems to have a more genuine understanding of blue bloods from his Yale years than bars. He just flat out tries too hard and it comes off as contrived. For example, this rates as one of the more forced passages I have ever read: 'I looked around the barroom. Someone else might have seen nothing more than a random crowd of drinkers, but I saw my people. Kith and kin. Fellow travelers. Every sort of person was there-stockbrokers, and safecrackers, athletes and invalids, mothers and supermodels-but we were as one.' Can't say I have ever been in a bar with 'supermodels' and find it unlikely that they would rub elbows with 'safecrackers' in this wildly eclectic bar on Long Island. Or his his description on seeing Sinatra in person and his observations on the blueness of his eyes: 'They darted left and right, sweeping the room like blue searchlights, and I noticed thet they turned different shades of blue as they moved-indigo, royal, navy.' Romantic yes, but real? Moehringer, a Met fan, takes a Dave Kingmanesque swing and miss at capturing the true feel of working class bar.

posted by Anonymous on April 27, 2006

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  • Posted October 24, 2008

    A Place like Home

    ¿Everyone has a holy place, a refuge, where their heart is purer, their mind clearer, where they feel closer to God or love or truth or whatever it is they happen to worship¿ (8). J.R. Moehringer¿s memoir, A Tender Bar, is a captivating story about how Dicken¿s Bar in Manhasset, New York, was his refuge. His story is one of struggle, ambition, confusion, and lost love.<BR/>Growing up without a father, J.R. seeks a male figure in his life. He creates a character out of the only piece of existence he has of his father: The Voice. It is the voice of his father on a radio station which he relies on as his ¿only connection to the masculine world¿ (17). The lack of a male figure in J.R.¿s life defines who he is and what he is seeking. The bar becomes his father, ¿it¿s dozens of men melding into one enormous male eye¿ watching over him, and guiding him through his life (8). J.R. writes about each man in the bar who impacted him. His style of narrating characters with such intricate detail and an apparent sense of appreciation makes his writing unique.<BR/> The narrative structure of J.R.¿s memoir appeals to the experiences of the audience. The chronological line of events of his life is simple. J.R. faces challenges which most readers could easily relate to. This gives his readers a sense of hope in themselves that they too can overcome their barriers. <BR/>The convincing style he writes in makes every word he says serious and important; hence, his writing is extremely powerful and emotionally involving. Along with telling his life story, he slips in meaningful lessons relating to his own experiences. One lesson involving his dedication to his fathers¿ voice is, ¿Life is all a matter of choosing which voices to tune in and which to tune out, a lesson I learned long before most people, but one that took me longer than most to put to good use¿ (17). He writes in a very simple yet effective style to get his point across. <BR/>J.R.¿s story is told out of appreciation of those who helped him get through his life. He gives greater meaning to that which most belittle or disregard. It is simply a bar he reflects on but he brings out the best of the bar and the men that inhibit it. J.R. says, ¿While I fear that we¿re drawn to what abandons us, and to what seems most likely to abandon us, in the end I believe we¿re defined by what embraces us¿ (4). The bar embraced, and in turn defined, J.R.

    15 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 29, 2010

    Bar none, a good read.

    Over the course of the year, I have picked up and put down "The Tender Bar" at my local book store several times. I was reluctant to read it because of my own childhood memories of living with an alcoholic and also avoiding any confirmation that I may have screwed up my son's psyche as a single parent. Then on my commute home one evening, I heard Andre Agassi discussing his decision to ask JR Moehringer to help write his own memoir and the reasons why he did on NPR - I took the plunge and bought it for my weekend read. Wow, I'm so glad I did. Mr. Moehringer's personal story is alternatively heartbreaking, funny, and triumphant.I can identify with the child that tried to be perfect to the point that it becomes a little neurotic. I loved and laughed so hard when he related the Shakespeare Firestone conversation between the bar patrons aka surrogate father figures - it was on par with Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First" shtick (at least to me). I also felt delighted at his various personal triumphs like graduating from Yale or writing for the Times even with his setbacks; and ultimately, the realization that it was time to walk away and move on with his life. I encourage anyone who like myself may have some hesitation to read this memoir - it isn't a sob story or a conceited you-too-can-overcome-your past bromide. It is a well written interesting recounting of insights gained and a loving tribute to people, a place and time in one person's life. Good stuff.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2006

    Disappointing...

    I bought this book hoping to catch a glimpse into a young man's fancy, fascination and feel for growing up in a bar. I was disappointed. Moehringer seems to have a more genuine understanding of blue bloods from his Yale years than bars. He just flat out tries too hard and it comes off as contrived. For example, this rates as one of the more forced passages I have ever read: 'I looked around the barroom. Someone else might have seen nothing more than a random crowd of drinkers, but I saw my people. Kith and kin. Fellow travelers. Every sort of person was there-stockbrokers, and safecrackers, athletes and invalids, mothers and supermodels-but we were as one.' Can't say I have ever been in a bar with 'supermodels' and find it unlikely that they would rub elbows with 'safecrackers' in this wildly eclectic bar on Long Island. Or his his description on seeing Sinatra in person and his observations on the blueness of his eyes: 'They darted left and right, sweeping the room like blue searchlights, and I noticed thet they turned different shades of blue as they moved-indigo, royal, navy.' Romantic yes, but real? Moehringer, a Met fan, takes a Dave Kingmanesque swing and miss at capturing the true feel of working class bar.

    8 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 6, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The Tender Bar is a fabulous memoir

    I am not one to read memoirs or non-fiction generally. But, after reading the Agassi memoir (which also rates 5 stars) and was wowed by the writing I had to read Moehringer's memoir. He is obviously a touching, detailed, funny and reflective writer. If you are from New York it may be even more meaningful. I read 52 books in 2009 and The Tender Bar and Agassi's OPEN (written by Moehringer) rank in the top 5 that I read.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2012

    J.R. Moehringer's The Tender Bar describes Moehringer's coming o

    J.R. Moehringer's The Tender Bar describes Moehringer's coming of age. He grew up in a decrepit old house with his mother, grandmother, and cynical grandfather in the town of Manhasset, New York. It is a well-crafted memoir tracking the development of a fatherless boy with aspirations to make something of his life. Searching for a mentor, Moehringer finds a group of men from a local bar to serve as a collective fatherly figure. Despite his circumstances, Moehringer is able to rise above the odds and ends up working for the New York Times with a degree from Yale. Throughout the memoir Moehringer describes his struggle to find his place in a variety of different settings. Just as he starts to fit in with the quick-witted men from the bar, he must learn to fit in with the elite of Yale, just when he&rsquo;s thought he&rsquo;s found love, he must cope with the grief of betrayal. He does an excellent job of letting the reader know where he stands in each social scene and exactly how he feels about a character. He includes brutally honest descriptions of alcoholism and its impact on life in Manhasset that make it an emotional read. Even though Moehringer is a very driven young man, time and time again he returns to the bar for comfort. I was given this book by my father and was initially confused by the message he was trying to convey. Most of the book Moehringer is reminiscing his joyous bar days, but towards the end he realizes it is time to move on. He is never resentful of time spent at the bar, he just acknowledges it held him back from greater enjoyments in life. Moehringer touches on all sorts of themes throughout the novel including ambition vs temptation, abuse, envy and success. This was the best book I&rsquo;ve read in a while because of the honesty in which he describes his feelings in every scene. Right away I found myself cheering for his success and cursing those who held him from it. This was an excellent book that anyone looking for a well-written, brutally honest, coming of age, memoir will enjoy.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2008

    Oddly, This Book Gives Me Hope

    ... hope about how a boy-child with lots of assorted father figure types wandering into and out of his life and no dad can turn out-at least in theory-OK... whatever OK is. Perhaps the first memoir I ever read, this beautifully-written, heartwrenching, truly engaging and often funny book opened me up to the possibilities of receiving wisdom from other people's lives, what they dare to share. We've heard 'it takes all kinds' dozens if not hundreds of times, a rule of thumb aimed at quickly explaining away what we don't understand in people without saying 'some people are just weird' or even a truthful 'I don't know' when we ask various versions of 'what's up with that person?' As I became more and more engrossed in Moehringer's life-story, I realized that the pages might hold at least one answer. Moehringer represents an amalgam of the misunderstood. He is a would-be ordinary guy, sharing his day-to-day life, what formed him from childhood, telling what was up with him, in the way I always longed for someone to do. He makes sense of how extraordinary is the mundane in a crazy life, how broken people can still have their perfect moments somehow. Although this book isn't about anyone prominent, it's obvious that Moehringer himself isn't so common and may become truly famous, even more than he has already. It is a brilliant work of heart, soul, emotion and artful languange... of inner struggle and heartache, of courage, grace, failure and triumph, told in a way that encourages the reader to search his own life, and be kinder to himself and others. Any of us may be an example of what 'it takes all kinds' means. Even someone normal. Like... me?

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2008

    Exceptionally rare outstanding read!

    I can't say enough about this book - an avid reader, it is a rare instance when a book connects with the soul. And, JR, reveals his soul completely to us in the Tender Bar. My hope is that the author continues to examine the human condition from his perspective. It's evident that JR was his own worst critic throughout the early years of his life...and, like many of us, he probably has some of those nagging questions that visit us all from time to time. What intellect, what talent. I truly look forward to more from this remarkable author.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2006

    One of my all time favorite books

    Absolutely loved the way this book came to life..every scene and every character was so real, the descriptions made you visualize everything including the furnishings and clothes, the feel of the sun and the ocean water...amazing. Yale and all associated with it rings very true as does JR himself and all the characters for that matter. Even when I truly enjoy a book, I often forget the title or author soon after I've finished reading it unless it's called to mind...not this time - I'll remember and recommend it always.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2005

    Move over, Pat Conroy

    Speaking of sports books, George Plimpton once said somthing like,'The smaller the ball, the better the writing'. In a variation on this theme, Moehringer has written a great book about a seemingly small subject, his neighborhood bar. Don't be fooled by that apparent lack of scope. This bar is just a keyhole that we peer through in order to view a very broad, and very funny universe. Oh, and scary, and warm, and cruel, and sad, and uplifting, and educational. There's even more than that, but don't take my word for it. Read this one for yourself.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2010

    An emotional revelation

    Moehringer pens the deepseated emotions of growing up without one's father. The reader without this experience, will be drawn into the events that produces the mature adult. It becomes evident that the mature adult has been nurtured and cared for by a very strong and principled mother.
    It is a wonderful read, well written, geographically precise, and very memorable.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2010

    Touching, funny and poignant

    The Tender Bar made me laugh and cry, sometimes all on the same page! My Book Club friend grew up in Manhasset and recommended it. She recognizes many of the characters. A beautiful story about a young boy, whose only connection to his disk jockey dad is the voice he hears on the radio, who learns to be a man from a motley assortment of bar patrons, book store owners and others, and who is loved and nurtured by a turbulent but remarkable mother. A must-read!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2013

    A great good bye

    Out of the ashes rise the phoenix forged from lost dreams, hopes, ambitions, and actual funerals. Sometimes, you outlive your illussions as the world burns...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2012

    Great memoir

    Easy read. Have read 2 times in 3 years. Happy, sad, real.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2012

    Very Enjoyable Read

    I enjoyed this book thoroughly. It was funny, sad, poignent, endearing and I wanted it to continue further into his adulthood merely because I was enjoying the story so much.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2012

    Great read!

    I absolutely loved this book! Amazing characters. The life of the author was forever enhanced by his local bar and the group of men who were loyal patrons.

    There are a tons of major life events, but with an equal mixutre of sad, happy and plain realistic. I love the author's thought patterns and his ability to adapt to all situations without becomming bitter.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 14, 2011

    Touching

    I thoroughly enjoyed this story. The author wrote such a touching memoir of his journey as a young boy to a man. I laughed, I cried, and I was very entertained. Overall it was a great book and very well written.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 27, 2011

    Loved it

    I laughed and cried.........his family reminded me a lot of mine. This is a book that while reading makes one want to start writing or keeping a journal of their own dysfunctional family......the weird uncle, aunt, mother in law....etc. Highly recommend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2010

    A wonderful read

    Moving, well written coming of age biography. I've recommended it to all my friends.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2010

    Best memoir I've read!

    J.R. Moehringer's easy style of story telling kept me completely engaged in this book and in his story. Having grown up in the same time period as he did, I felt a real connection to him. Although our lives were very different, there were some crossovers, and I could easily relate to many of his experiences. I spent many an errant hour in bars as I was growing up, and have some wonderful, and many not so wonderful, memories of those days. Moehringer's story is a triumph, and he could have ended up quite differently, given the atmosphere in which he grew up. I loved this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2009

    The world is a confusing place for a boy with little guidance.

    J.R. a fatherless boy, lovingly tells the story of his relationship with the men in a neighborhood bar who become his surrogate fathers. They are all alcoholics who have their own pain as well. No judgement, just love these good men as they are.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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