Do you think J R Moehringer would hate me if I said his book was sweet? That I thought his tale of growing up fatherless in Manhasset, raised by a slap-dash collection of wack-a-doo characters in his local bar, was just darling? Do you think he’d pitch a fit and tell me it was rugged and manly, and that nothing is rugged and manlier than being raised in a bar?
The Tender Bar – J R Moehringer
It took me several chapters to get into this book. I’m fairly convinced now that I will never write a memoir, because my father is both living and present, and my mother is neither poverty-stricken and stalwart nor certifiably insane. J R’s is (stalwart, I mean), and the first few chapters just sort of cover this business – absent father, lives in uncomfortable Grandfather’s house with mother, has uncle who tends bar.
Eventually, Uncle Charlie takes more of a front seat and he, along with the other colorful characters that populate the Dickens bar, are what give this book its flavor. Moehringer has an unerring eye for quirks, and by the time the book pokes and meanders to its end, you’re so hopelessly in love with Joey D and Bob the Cop and Bobo and Fuckembabe that you can hardly stand it.
This is, essentially, just one more coming-of-age story, about a young boy finding his sea-legs and uncovering his ambitions, having his heart broken and drinking away the pain, etc etc. It’s nothing spectacularly mind-blowing or earth-shattering or heart-rending or any other object-verbing, but it’s well-written and endearing, and warrants a deep, satisfied sigh.