The Tender Bar: A Memoir (Paperback)

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The Tender Bar is J.R. Moehringer's aptly named memoir about a pub in Manhasset, a town famous for its drinking. A bar can be a sacred place, a refuge, a man cave to convene in, shoot the breeze, raise younger men, gamble, find a gal, celebrate, grieve. To laugh and cry with the sinners whose raw humanity seems to render them saints. Moehringer quotes Shakespeare's Measure for Measure on the topic: "They say the best men are molded out of faults,/And, for the most, become much more the better/For being a little bad." Raised by his mother in the dilapidated home of his grandmother and grandfather, filled with cousins and aunts and an uncle, he lived only 142 steps from this bar called Publicans (unless you're staggering).

Moehringer's storytelling ability is exceptional; as Steve Martin said, "I laughed and cried, and then I read the book." The Tender Bar is written from Moehringer's evolving point of view from childhood through adulthood. His love affair with words began early, and was fanned to flame by his high school job at a bookstore under the tutelage of two erudite if antisocial booksellers. His style is easy, funny, smart.

Moehringer went to Yale, wrote for The New York Times, but chose to write about this bar because these were the salty dogs who raised him, and because of the sanctity of this specific place. His mother and father broke up when he was nine months old, and as he grew he trusted and looked up to these men. Also, as Moehringer says, every great writer seemed to be a great drinker; he tips the hat in various creative ways to Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Joyce. He writes, "I walked to Publicans, my chapter tucked under my arm, and consoled myself the whole way that every writer spends as much time at bars as at his writing desk. Drinking and writing go together like scotch and soda, I assured myself as I walked through the front door." As a teetotaler (who used to enjoy the booze), I was enchanted by this book, and was glad to sit vicariously at the bar for the three days I was reading it. Moehringer drank with the best of them, but writes this retrospectively with clarity, nostalgia, and humor. -- Mia Wigmore

— From June 2012

The Tender Bar is J.R. Moehringer's aptly named memoir about a pub in Manhasset, a town famous for its drinking. A bar can be a sacred place, a refuge, a man cave to convene in, shoot the breeze, raise younger men, gamble, find a gal, celebrate, grieve. To laugh and cry with the sinners whose raw humanity seems to render them saints. Moehringer quotes Shakespeare's Measure for Measure on the topic: "They say the best men are molded out of faults,/And, for the most, become much more the better/For being a little bad." Raised by his mother in the dilapidated home of his grandmother and grandfather, filled with cousins and aunts and an uncle, he lived only 142 steps from this bar called Publicans (unless you're staggering). The Tender Bar is written from Moehringer's evolving point of view from childhood through adulthood. His love affair with words began early, and was fanned to flame by his high school job at a bookstore under the tutelage of two erudite if antisocial booksellers. His style is easy, funny, smart. Moehringer went to Yale, wrote for The New York Times, but chose to write about this bar because these were the salty dogs who raised him, and because of the sanctity of this specific place.

— From Mia

Description


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.

About the Author


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 lives in Denver.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780786888764
ISBN-10: 0786888768
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication Date: August 2006
Pages: 432
Language: English