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By turns, an elegy, a celebration, and a social history, The Last Fine Time is a tour de force of lyrical style. Verlyn Klinkenborg chronicles the life of a family-owned restaurant in Buffalo, New York, from its days as a prewar Polish tavern to its reincarnation as George & Eddie's, a swank nightspot serving highballs and French-fried shrimp to a generation of optimistic and prosperous Americans. In the inevitable dimming of the neon sign outside the restaurant, we see both the passing of an old world way of life and the end to the postwar exuberance that was Eddie Wenzek's "last fine time."
"Brings an era to life. . . . All at once, a small, bygone portion of America becomes so real that we seem to be not so much reading about it as drawing it forth from our own memories."
— Anne Tyler
"Wittily lyrical. . . . The shining prose of The Last Fine Time radiates both in space and in time."
— Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
"[A] lovingly poetic and gitty portrait of his father-in-law's bar just outside Buffalo, before its death by thoroughway and sprawl."—Reamy Jansen, Bloomsbury Review
— Reamy Jansen
“[Klinkenborg] has wrapped a profound social history around, of all things, a family-owned taproom in Buffalo, NY. Researching both the city and the family . . . Klinkenborg sensitively addresses the shifts in consciousness with passing generations. Men and women born during the baby-boom years will recognize their own parents in this poignant social portrait.”
— Joseph F. Keppler
“The Wenzeks’ history joins what is finally the great American story, that of how the old world came to, and changed, the new. It’s a worthy subject for a writer of Klinkenborg’s talent, and he does it justice.”—,
— Robert Wilson
An Innocent Population
Posted September 21, 2008
OK. Think the headline is a bit to rapturous? It isn't. This book evokes a time and a place a well as any I have ever read. Maybe 'Time and Again' is in the same league in terms of placing me in someone else's shoes. I love 'the American roadside' and so I do have a special affinity for this subject matter, but I don't think that's why I find the book some compelling. I found the author's light touch with his pen to be the difference between a droll social history...and a magnificent journey.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 9, 2003
I was born on the East Side of Buffalo in the 1950s and raised there. My uncle, who lived with us, owned a bar on Sycamore Street and I worked in that bar. I eventually moved on but my parents, unlike the Wenceks, continued to live in their East Side home until their death in the 90s. I always questioned why they stayed. Thank you to Mr. Klinkenborg for answering my quandry by shedding light on who my parents were. And thank you to my friend who recommended that I read his copy of this wonderful book. I am passing on the word and hopefully others can find a copy to read. If this book is ever reprinted, I have a very long list of persons who will be receiving it as a gift.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 15, 2002
i read this book several years ago and it has stayed w/ me; most books don't. i recommend it regularly to any and all w/ even the most distant connection to buffalo. i've never even been to buffalo, but i feel as if i have, thanks to mr. klinkenborg. a fine talent and a fine book!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.