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The Last Fine Time

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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...
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Overview

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."
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Klinkenborg evokes memories of postwar America and its dissolving ethnic neighborhoods in this lyrical account of a Buffalo, N.Y., tavern. Author tour. Feb.
Library Journal
Klinkenborg Making Hay, Lyons & Burford, 1986 has written the history of a bar that flourished on the East Side of Buffalo from the 1920s to 1970. He also portrays two generations of the Wenzek family, the Polish Americans who ran and lived above ``George and Eddie's'' until the bar closed down. Yet, his incredibly moving book is much more than the history of a declining neighborhood bar and a city in transition. Klinkenborg's writing is superb; his sensitivity to the story is extraordinary; and his ability to capture a watershed period in the transition of American cities in one tiny institution like ``George and Eddie's'' is unique. Recommended for most public and academic libraries for its historical and sociological insights. This book deserves a wide readership.-- Anne H. Sullivan, Tompkins Cortland Community Coll. Lib., Dryden, N.Y.
Boston Globe - Anne Tyler
"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."
New York Times - Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
"Wittily lyrical. . . . The shining prose of The Last Fine Time radiates both in space and in time."
Bloomsbury Review - Reamy Jansen
"[A] lovingly poetic and gitty portrait of his father-in-law's bar just outside Buffalo, before its death by thoroughway and sprawl."
USA Today - Robert Wilson
“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.”
Seattle Times - Joseph F. Keppler
“[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.”
Washington Post
"The author evokes the old ways with such darting humor and restless trope-making that the moss of nostalgia has no chance to grow on his sentence structure."
Boston Globe

"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

New York Times

"Wittily lyrical. . . . The shining prose of The Last Fine Time radiates both in space and in time."

— Christopher Lehmann-Haupt

New Statesman
"Klinkenborg understands the power of images and of signs. His more objective research in the city library is impeccable and unobtrusive, and there are hints almost of Faulkner in his handling of a community's origins and growth. . . . It is an astonishing achievement, one of the finest memoirs of recent years."
Bloomsbury Review

"[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

Seattle Times

“[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

USA Today

“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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394571959
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/2/1991
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 209

Meet the Author

Verlyn Kilnkenborg comes from a family of Iowa farmers. A member of the editorial board of the New York Times, Klinkenborg has been published in the New Yoker, Harper's, Esquire, National Geographic, Smithsonian, and the New York Times Magazine. He is the author of Making Hay and a collection of essays, The Rural Life.

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Table of Contents

Prologue 3
Eddie 10
Thomas 35
Julia 65
Ararat 88
Eddie 118
An Innocent Population 149
The Falls 175
Epilogue 199
Notes 203
Acknowledgments 210
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2008

    Evocative and personal and haunting and joyous

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2003

    More thanks...

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2002

    good book!

    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!

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