Tender Bar: A Memoir (Enhanced Edition) [NOOK Book]

Overview

The New York Times bestseller and one of the 100 Most Notable Books of 2005. In the tradition of This Boy's Life and The Liar's Club, a raucous, poignant, luminously written memoir about a boy striving to become a man, and his romance with a bar.

J.R. Moehringer grew up captivated by a voice. It was the voice of his father, a New York City disc jockey who vanished before J.R. spoke his first word. Sitting on the stoop, pressing an ear to the ...
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Tender Bar: A Memoir (Enhanced Edition)

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Overview

The New York Times bestseller and one of the 100 Most Notable Books of 2005. In the tradition of This Boy's Life and The Liar's Club, a raucous, poignant, luminously written memoir about a boy striving to become a man, and his romance with a bar.

J.R. Moehringer grew up captivated by a voice. It was the voice of his father, a New York City disc jockey who vanished before J.R. spoke his first word. Sitting on the stoop, pressing an ear to the radio, J.R. would strain to hear in that plummy baritone the secrets of masculinity and identity. Though J.R.'s mother was his world, his rock, he craved something more, something faintly and hauntingly audible only in The Voice.

At eight years old, suddenly unable to find The Voice on the radio, J.R. turned in desperation to the bar on the corner, where he found a rousing chorus of new voices. The alphas along the bar--including J.R.'s Uncle Charlie, a Humphrey Bogart look-alike; Colt, a Yogi Bear sound-alike; and Joey D, a softhearted brawler--took J.R. to the beach, to ballgames, and ultimately into their circle. They taught J.R., tended him, and provided a kind of fathering-by-committee. Torn between the stirring example of his mother and the lurid romance of the bar, J.R. tried to forge a self somewhere in the center. But when it was time for J.R. to leave home, the bar became an increasingly seductive sanctuary, a place to return and regroup during his picaresque journeys. Time and again the bar offered shelter from failure, rejection, heartbreak--and eventually from reality.

In the grand tradition of landmark memoirs, The Tender Bar is suspenseful, wrenching, and achingly funny. A classic American story of self-invention and escape, of the fierce love between a single mother and an only son, it's also a moving portrait of one boy's struggle to become a man, and an unforgettable depiction of how men remain, at heart, lost boys.

The moving, award-winning memoir, now available as an enhanced ebook, including audio clips narrated by the author, family photos, a new author Q&A, and an excerpt from Moehringer's debut novel, Sutton.

Full of heart, drama, and exquisite comic timing, The Tender Bar is the story of a boy striving to become a man and his romance with a bar. J.R. Moehringer grew up captivated by a voice: It was the sound of his missing father, a disc jockey who disappeared before J.R. spoke his first word. As a boy, he would press his ear to the radio, straining to hear in that plummy baritone the secrets of masculinity and identity. Though J.R.'s mother was his world, his anchor, he needed something else, something more, something he couldn't name.

At eight years old, suddenly unable to find the voice on the radio, he turned to the bar on the corner, a grand old New York saloon that was a sanctuary for all types of men--cops and poets, actors and lawyers, gamblers and stumblebums. The alphas along the bar--including J.R.'s Uncle Charlie, a Humphrey Bogart look-alike; Colt, a Yogi Bear soundalike; and Joey D, a softhearted brawler--taught him, tended him, and provided a kind of fatherhood-by-committee.

When the time came for J.R. to leave home, the bar became a place to regroup during his journeys--from his entrance to Yale, to his dream job at the New York Times, which became a nightmare when he found himself a faulty cog in a vast machine. Through it all, the bar offered shelter from failure, rejection, and eventually from reality. Riveting, moving, and achingly funny, The Tender Bar is at once an evocative portrait of one boy's struggle to become a man and a touching depiction of how some men, at heart, remain lost boys.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401305109
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 8/14/2012
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 66,289
  • File size: 148 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

J. R. Moehringer
J.R. Moehringer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2000, is a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, and a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He is the author of the novel Sutton and coauthor of Open by Andre Agassi. He lives in Denver.

Biography

J. R. Moehringer has an old-fashioned flair for infusing potentially hard-boiled subject matter with humanity and pathos. This gift was first evident in "Resurrecting the Champ," an article which originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times Magazine. The article detailed Moehringer's attempts to track down former boxing champ "Battlin'" Bob Satterfield. However, percolating just beneath the surface of this "where-are-they-now" sports story was an issue much closer to Moehringer's heart: the gnawing need to locate the father that abandoned him as a boy. The resulting story not only became a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, but it also gained the attention and accolades of everyone from Chris Jones of Esquire to Katie Couric of The Today Show.

With the publication of Moehringer's first book, it is clear that his journey remains ongoing. The Tender Bar is a memoir that finds Moehringer digging deeper into his own past with yet another decidedly masculine backdrop, the local tavern. Moehringer writes about Dickens Bar in Manhasset, Long Island, with a rhapsodic affection that conjures a setting more akin to a family living room than a haven for drunken carousing and televised ball games. He portrays the various barflies as colorful fountains of homespun wisdom, reserving a special fondness for Steve, the owner of Dickens who provided a sanctuary for the drunks in Moehringer's neighborhood. In fact, in the wake of the meltdown at Three-Mile Island in 1979, several patrons even called Steve to find out if they could use the airtight basement of Dickens as a makeshift fallout shelter.

Moehringer found his own sanctuary at Dickens at a young age, long before he could even utilize the pub for its intended purpose. Instead, he found a home where the various rummies served as stand-ins for his absent father, who is merely a phantom-like presence in the book. He speaks of his disc jockey dad as a disembodied voice over the radio, and young Moehringer spent many hours with a radio pressed against his ear in a futile attempt to connect with the father that left him. However, at Dickens, Moehringer found a group of men who welcomed the boy into their world and supplied him with their own brand of woozy fathering. Colorful characters with names like Colt and Joey D. (not to mention Moehringer's own Uncle Charlie) guided him through his young life, functioning as the various components of the male role model he so desperately needed.

As Moehringer grew older and faced challenges that he never dreamed of as a boy, Dickens would continue to serve its chief function for him as a refuge with a built-in ramshackle family. The Tender Bar is no mere sugar-coated tale of drunks with hearts-of-gold, though, and the sweetness is often underlined with the bitter realities of both bar life and modern life. The story's climax set on September 11th, 2001, plants the fantasy world at Dickens firmly and tragically back into Earth.

The complexity and pure readability of The Tender Bar certainly has not escaped critics, whom are already hailing this memoir as "funny, vivid, and clever" (The Washington Post) and recognizing that "listening to Moehringer's soothing voice is like basking in the glow of a barroom storyteller-not the one who shouts to be heard over the din, but the one whose story is good enough to make everyone keep it down." (Publisher's Weekly).

Moehringer has assuredly survived the ups and downs of his unconventional upbringing, winning the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2000, and continuing to work as a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. With the highly praised publication of The Tender Bar he may very well find himself playing a role for his own readers not unlike that of his boozy benefactors back at Dickens: a storyteller with a gift for making the world seem a little less lonely.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Moehringer:

"I have a weakness for really bad TV. The badder, the better. Particularly reality TV."

"I care way too much how the Mets are going to do this year."

"Some years ago I started taking cello lessons. Learning to play had been a dream for years. But my job, and my book, and my utter lack of talent, sidetracked me. This year I'll take up my cello again, not only to unwind but to better understand the rigors and rewards of ‘practice.' Maybe if I publicly declare my goal, here and now, I'll feel added pressure to stay with it this time...."

"I'm blessed by friends. The ancient philosophers thought friendship the cornerstone of happiness, so I never miss an opportunity to give thanks for the people who make me laugh, kick me in the pants, and steer me clear of the jagged rocks with their sage advice. Without Sloan and Roger Barnett, Jim Newton, Emily Nunn, Amy Wallace, Bill Husted, et al., The Tender Bar wouldn't exist and my life would be many shades dimmer. To know me is to love them."

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    1. Hometown:
      Denver, Colorado
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 7, 1964
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Yale College, 1986
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 136 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(83)

4 Star

(29)

3 Star

(12)

2 Star

(7)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 136 Customer Reviews
  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 136 Customer Reviews

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