Author: J.R. Moehringer
Pages: 370. Quick read.
Rating: 85/100. Worth it.
Amazon: Tender Bar
Like all best selling memoirs, the Tender Bar is a story that is at times gut-wrenchingly heart-breaking and at times laugh out loud funny but overall it is inevitable more glorified and dramatic than real life could ever be. This isn't necessarily a bad thing and the author puts a unique spin on the standard coming-of-age without a dad story.
Moehringer grew up in Manhasset, a typical NYC suburb, and the next town over from Great Neck, my own childhood stomping ground. At a young age Moehringer is attracted to Publican's, a local bar, in which he finds comfort and the masculine figures that he lacks in his own family life. His love affair with the bar is the dominant theme throughout the book. By the end of the tale I actually begin to believe in the mystique and comfort that the bar provides - but just barely.
One thing I don't get - why do all memoirs perfectly recount tales from when the author was between ages 5-10. Nobody remembers that age, let alone retell word for word conversations. Whenever a chapter begins the summer I turned 6 ½…..i automatically become suspicious.
One thing I love - Moehringer doesn't make himself out to be a hero or even a protagonist. He doesn't try to show his cathartic growth throughout the novel. He has lived a life with regrets, fears and failures and he puts the same energy into these events as he does in telling his successes. The result is an even balance which allows you to root for him as a person and a realization that the story is only special because it is his own.