The Tender Bar: A Memoir

The Tender Bar: A Memoir

4.3 141
by J. R. Moehringer
     
 

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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 YorkSee more details below

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

Vanity Fair
In his gimlet-eyed memoir, The Tender Bar, J.R. Moehringer lovingly and affectingly toasts a boyhood spent on a barstool.
Bob Ivry
The book ends up being funny, vivid and clever, peppered with self-deprecation and populated by larger-than-life lugs.
— The Washington Post
Janet Maslin
… the real richness of The Tender Bar lies in its including so many of these individual events while still keeping a larger literary context in mind. After all, the bar was called Dickens. The patrons loved talking about writers. And Manhasset was "Great Gatsby" territory. One of the book's funnier moments comes when two of Mr. Moehringer's many mentors realize, in horror, that the Kid has never read it.
— The New York Times
"The best thing about The Tender Bar is that it is many stories in one."
— Entertainment Weekly
Publishers Weekly
Moehringer capably reads his own memoir, which takes him from a peripatetic Long Island childhood to life as a budding journalist at the New York Times. Torn between the feminine comfort of his mother and the masculine camaraderie he finds in a series of bars and taverns, Moehringer details his difficult but loving upbringing. Having lived the experiences of his book, Moehringer brings to life colorful characters, like his stuttering grandfather. His soft, deep voice complements the warmly rendered history that celebrates the oddly composed parts of his childhood, and how time spent in a series of bars carousing with father figures formed him. The uniform tone of the audiobook is hampered by the jazz noodling that appears at the beginning of each track, which interrupts the book's passage through time. Still, 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. Simultaneous release with the Hyperion hardcover (Reviews, June 27). (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT - Avi Kramer
In this coming-of-age memoir, Moehringer narrates his upbringing in Manhasset, Long Island with the luster of a pure storyteller and the sensitivity of someone who has gone through it all and survived. He was a fatherless boy who loved nothing more than the Mets, and wanted nothing more than happiness for his mother. The two of them lived in the smelly, falling-apart home of his grandparents just steps from the local watering hole. There Wall Street execs and blue-collar workers alike were made to feel at home, and literature and war were discussed with the same frequency and emotion as New York sports. While J.R. knew his father, a disc jockey in Manhattan, only by his voice on the radio, the men at this bar, from the time he was ten years old, guided him, loved him, and made up the only paternal influence in his life. These hodgepodge characters included his best friend and cousin, McGraw, who chugged glasses of milk and always wore a plastic Mets batting helmet, and perfectly nicknamed local men (Joey D, Bobo, Cager, Colt) who lived all of their evenings on the barstools at Publicans. J.R. found comfort and companionship where others might have seen buffoonery and drunkenness. J.R. dreamed of being a lawyer and buying a house for his mother. At Yale he struggled academically and went through the euphoria of love and the pain of a broken heart. Coming home to Manhasset after graduation, he sold kitchenware before landing a job as a copyboy at The New York Times. He began a novel about Publicans, becoming a regular at the place he most revered, jotting notes on napkins. He drank more and more, until one event changed him, and the bar, irrevocably. All the while we are remindedof how each milestone in his life, good or bad, was cheered or lamented, gin or scotch in hand, alongside the men at Publicans.
Library Journal
Moehringer, a Pulitzer Prize winner, Yale graduate, Harvard fellow, and national reporter for the Los Angeles Times, grew up in a bar. Specifically, Publicans, a Manhasset, Long Island, NY, bar. Abandoned by his radio host father and raised by a strong but luckless mother, he looked to the neighborhood bar for male role models. There he was taught such disparate lessons as how to throw a ball, how to bet on horses, and how to analyze a poem. His teachers were a hilarious, flawed, and diverse lot-Wall Street financiers, actors, poets, cops, bookies-and Moehringer's knack for characterization brings every one of them to life. At Publicans, the author found a home, the masculinity he yearned to assume, and eventually, the strength to leave. Just like at Cheers, everybody knew your name at Publicans. They also knew your cousin's name, your grade point average, and the best Frank Sinatra song to mend a broken heart. Highly recommended for all collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/05.]-Jan Brue Enright, Augustana Coll. Lib., Sioux Falls, SD Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
It takes a gin mill to raise a child-or so one might think from this memoir filled with gladness by a Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times correspondent. In the early '70s, grade-schooler Moehringer lived with his mother in her father's house in Manhasset, a small town 17 miles east of Manhattan that F. Scott Fitzgerald used as the setting for The Great Gatsby. Listening to the radio for his absent father (a drunken deejay), puzzled by his slovenly grandfather, the boy had no male role models until Uncle Charlie took him to the local saloon where he bartended. Moehringer evokes the sights, sounds and smells that gave Publicans (originally known as Dickens) its sodden charm: not just the beer and the fund of coins accumulating in the urinal, but the "faint notes of perfumes and colognes, hair tonics and shoe creams, lemons and steaks and cigars and newspapers, and an undertone of brine from Manhasset Bay." Sporting Runyonesque nicknames like Bob the Cop, Cager, Stinky, Colt, Smelly, Jimbo, Fast Eddy and Bobo, the bar's denizens included poets, bookies, Vietnam vets, lawyers, actors, athletes, misfits and dreamers, all forming "one enormous male eye looking over my shoulder." Moehringer captures in all its raunchy, often hilarious glory the conversations of these master storytellers, as intoxicated by words as by alcohol. Their saloon community later provided a retreat for the author following a disastrous collegiate love affair and failure as a New York Times copyboy. The 1989 death of charismatic owner Steve began Publicans' demise, but also propelled 25-year-old Moehringer into growing up, as he left his buddies behind and began his journalism career anew out West. A straight-upaccount of masculinity, maturity and memory that leaves a smile on the face and an ache in the heart.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781401383411
Publisher:
Hachette Books
Publication date:
09/01/2005
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
11,065
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
13 - 18 Years

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