The Tender Bar: A Memoir

The Tender Bar: A Memoir

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 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.

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: 71,230
File size: 984 KB
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

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.


Denver, Colorado

Date of Birth:

December 7, 1964

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


B.A., Yale College, 1986

Read an Excerpt

Prologue | ONE OF MANY

We went there for everything we needed. we went there when thirsty, of course, and when hungry, and when dead tired. We went there when happy, to celebrate, and when sad, to sulk. We went there after weddings and funerals, for something to settle our nerves, and always for a shot of courage just before. We went there when we didn't know what we needed, hoping someone might tell us. We went there when looking for love, or sex, or trouble, or for someone who had gone missing, because sooner or later everyone turned up there. Most of all we went there when we needed to be found.

My personal list of needs was long. An only child, abandoned by my father, I needed a family, a home, and men. Especially men. I needed men as mentors, heroes, role models, and as a kind of masculine counterweight to my mother, grandmother, aunt and five female cousins with whom I lived. The bar provided me with all the men I needed, and one or two men who were the last thing I needed.

Long before it legally served me, the bar saved me. It restored my faith when I was a boy, tended me as a teenager, and when I was a young man the bar embraced me. 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. Naturally I embraced the bar right back, until one night the bar turned me away, and in that final abandonment the bar saved my life.

There had always been a bar on that corner, by one name or another, since the beginning of time, or the end of Prohibition, which were the same thing in my hard-drinking hometown-Manhasset, Long Island. In the 1930s the bar was a stop-off for movie stars on their way to the nearby yacht clubs and posh ocean resorts. In the 1940s the bar was a haven for soldiers coming home from the wars. In the 1950s the bar was a lounge for greasers and their poodle-skirted girlfriends. But the bar didn't become a landmark, a patch of hallowed ground, until 1970, when Steve bought the place and renamed it Dickens. Above the door Steve hung a silhouette of Charles Dickens, and below the silhouette he spelled out the name in Old English lettering: dickens. Such a blatant display of Anglophilia didn't sit well with every Kevin Flynn and Michael Gallagher in Manhasset. They let it slide only because they so thoroughly approved of Steve's Cardinal Rule of the Barroom: Every third drink free. Also, it helped that Steve hired seven or eight members of the O'Malley clan to bus his tables, and that he took pains to make Dickens look as though it had been shipped brick by brick from County Donegal.

Steve intended his bar to look like a European public house, but to feel quintessentially American, an honest-to-god house for the public. His public. In the heart of Manhasset, a pastoral suburb of eight thousand people, seventeen miles southeast of Manhattan, Steve wanted to create a sanctuary where his neighbors and friends and fellow drinkers, and especially his high-school buddies coming home from Vietnam, could savor a feeling of safety and return. In every venture Steve was confident of success-confidence was his most attractive quality and his tragic flaw-but with Dickens he surpassed his greatest expectations. Manhasset quickly came to see Steve's bar as the bar. Just as we said The City to mean New York City, and The Street to mean Wall Street, we always said The Bar, presumptively, and there was never any confusion about which bar we meant. Then, imperceptibly, Dickens became something more than The Bar. It became The Place, the preferred shelter from all life's storms. In 1979, when the nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island melted down and fear of apocalypse swept the Northeast, many Manhassetites phoned Steve to reserve space in the airtight basement below his bar. Of course everyone had their own basements. But there was just something about Dickens. People thought of it first whenever doomsday loomed.

Along with sanctuary, Steve provided nightly lessons in democracy, or the special plurality of alcohol. Standing in the middle of his barroom, you could watch men and women from all strata of society educating and abusing one another. You could hear the poorest man in town discussing "market volatility" with the president of the New York Stock Exchange, or the local librarian lecturing a New York Yankees Hall of Famer about the wisdom of choking up on the bat. You could hear a feebleminded porter say something so off-the-wall, and yet so wise, that a college philosophy professor would jot it on a napkin and tuck it in his pocket. You could hear bartenders-in between making bets and mixing Pink Squirrels--talk like philosopher kings.

Steve believed the corner bar to be the most egalitarian of all American gathering places, and he knew that Americans have always venerated their bars, saloons, taverns, and "gin mills," one of his favorite expressions. He knew that Americans invest their bars with meaning and turn to them for everything from glamour to succor, and above all for relief from that scourge of modern life--loneliness. He didn't know that the Puritans, upon landing in the New World, built a bar even before they built a church. He didn't know that American bars descend directly from the medieval inns of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, which descended from the Saxon alehouses, which descended from the tabernae along the roads of ancient Rome. Steve's bar could trace its lineage all the way back to the painted caves of Western Europe where Stone Age elders initiated young boys and girls into the ways of the tribe nearly fifteen thousand years ago. Though Steve didn't know these things, he sensed them in his blood and enacted them in everything he did. More than most men, Steve appreciated the importance of place, and on the cornerstone of this principle he was able to build a bar so strange and shrewd and beloved and wondrously in tune with its customers, that it came to be known well beyond Manhasset.

My hometown was famous for two things-lacrosse and liquor. Year in, year out, Manhasset produced a disproportionate number of superb lacrosse players and a still-greater number of distended livers. Some people also knew Manhasset as the backdrop for The Great Gatsby. While composing portions of his masterpiece, F. Scott Fitzgerald sat on a breezy veranda in Great Neck and gazed across Manhasset Bay at our town, which he turned into the fictional East Egg, a historic distinction that gave our bowling alley and pizzeria a certain archaeological grandeur. We strode each day across Fitzgerald's abandoned stage set. We romanced one another among his ruins. It was a kick-an honor. But like Steve's bar it was merely an offshoot of Manhasset's famous fondness for drink. Anyone familiar with Manhasset understood why liquor surged through Fitzgerald's novel like the Mississippi across a floodplain. Men and women throwing raucous parties and boozing until they blacked out or ran someone down with their car? Sounded to us like a typical Tuesday night in Manhasset.

Manhasset, site of the largest liquor store in New York State, was the only town on Long Island with a cocktail named after it (a Manhasset is a Manhattan, with more alcohol). The town's half-mile-long main drag, Plandome Road, was every drinker's street of dreams-bar after bar after bar. Many in Manhasset likened Plandome Road to a mythical country lane in Ireland, a gently winding procession of men and women brimming with whiskey and good cheer. Bars on Plandome Road were as numerous as stars on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, and we took a stubborn, eccentric pride in their number. When one man torched his bar on Plandome Road to collect the insurance, cops found him in another bar on Plandome Road and told him he was wanted for questioning. The man put a hand over his heart like a priest accused of burning a cross. "How could I," he asked, "how could anyone-burn down a bar?"

With its curious division of upper class and working class, its ethnic mix of Irish and Italian, and its coterie of some of the wealthiest families in the United States, Manhasset was forever struggling to define itself. It was a town where dirty-faced urchins gathered at Memorial Field-to play "bicycle polo;" where neighbors hid from one another behind their perfect hedgerows-yet still kept careful track of one another's stories and foibles; where everyone departed at sunrise on the trains to Manhattan-but no one ever really left for good, except in a pine box. Though Manhasset felt like a small farm community, and though real estate brokers tended to call it a bedroom community, we cleaved to the notion that we were a barroom community. Bars gave us identity and points of intersection. The Little League, softball league, bowling league, and Junior League not only held their meetings at Steve's bar, they often met on the same night.

Brass Pony, Gay Dome, Lamplight, Kilmeade's, Joan and Ed's, Popping Cork, 1680 House, Jaunting Car, The Scratch-the names of Manhasset's bars were more familiar to us than the names of its main streets and founding families. The life spans of bars were like dynasties: We measured time by them, and found some primal comfort in the knowledge that whenever one closed, the curtain would rise on another. My grandmother told me that Manhasset was one of those places where an old wives' tale was accepted as fact-namely, that drinking at home was the mark of an alcoholic. So long as you drank publicly, not secretly, you weren't a drunk. Thus, bars. Lots and lots of bars.

Of course many bars in Manhasset, like bars everywhere, were nasty places, full of pickled people marinating in regret. Steve wanted his bar to be different. He wanted his bar to be sublime. He envisioned a bar that would cater to Manhasset's multiple personalities. A cozy pub one minute, a crazy after-hours club the next. A family restaurant early in the evening, and late at night a low-down tavern, where men and women could tell lies and drink until they dropped. Essential to Steve was the idea that Dickens would be the opposite of the outside world. Cool in the dog days, warm from the first frost until spring. His bar would always be clean and well-lighted, like the den of that perfect family we all believe exists but doesn't and never did. At Dickens everyone would feel special, though no one would stand out. Maybe my favorite story about Steve's bar concerned the man who found his way there after escaping a nearby mental hospital. No one looked askance at the man. No one asked who he was, or why he was dressed in pajamas, or why he had such a feral gleam in his eye. The gang in the barroom simply threw their arms around him, told him funny stories, and bought him drinks all day long. The only reason the poor man was eventually asked to leave was that he suddenly and for no apparent reason dropped his pants. Even then the bartenders only chided him gently, using their standard admonition: "Here now-you can't be doing that!"

Like love affairs, bars depend on a delicate mix of timing, chemistry, lighting, luck and--maybe above all--generosity. From the start Steve declared that no one at Dickens would feel slighted. His burgers would be three-inch souffl_s of filet mignon, his closing time would be negotiable, no matter what the law said, and his bartenders would give an extra--extra--long pour. A standard drink at Dickens would be a double anywhere else. A double would leave you cross-eyed. A triple would "cream your spinach," according to my mother's younger brother, my Uncle Charlie, the first bartender Steve ever hired.

A true son of Manhasset, Steve believed in booze. Everything he was, he owed to booze. His father, a Heineken distributor, died and left Steve a small fortune when he was young. Steve's daughter was named Brandy, his speedboat was named Dipsomania, and his face, after years of homeric drinking, was that telltale shade of scarlet. He saw himself as a Pied Piper of Alcohol, and the pie-eyed residents of Manhasset saw him that way, too. Through the years he developed a fanatic following, a legion of devotees. A Cult of Steve.

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. For better or worse my holy place was Steve's bar. And because I found it in my youth, the bar was that much more sacred, its image clouded by that special reverence children accord those places where they feel safe. Others might feel this way about a classroom or playground, a theater or church, a laboratory or library or stadium. Even a home. But none of these places claimed me. We exalt what is at hand. Had I grown up beside a river or an ocean, some natural avenue of self-discovery and escape, I might have mythologized it. Instead I grew up 142 steps from a glorious old American tavern, and that has made all the difference.

I didn't spend every waking minute in the bar. I went into the world, worked and failed, fell in love, played the fool, had my heart broken and my threshold tested. But because of Steve's bar each rite of passage felt linked to the last, and the next, as did each person I met. For the first twenty-five years of my life everyone I knew either sent me to the bar, drove me to the bar, accompanied me to the bar, rescued me from the bar, or was in the bar when I arrived, as if waiting for me since the day I was born. Among this last group were Steve and the men.

I used to say I'd found in Steve's bar the fathers I needed, but this wasn't quite right. At some point the bar itself became my father, its dozens of men melding into one enormous male eye looking over my shoulder, providing that needed alternative to my mother, that Y chromosome to her X. My mother didn't know she was competing with the men of the bar, and the men didn't know they were vying with her. They all assumed that they were on the same page, because they all shared one antiquated idea about manhood. My mother and the men believed that being a good man is an art, and being a bad man is a tragedy, for the world as much as for those who depend on the tragic man in question. Though my mother first introduced me to this idea, Steve's bar was where I saw its truth demonstrated daily. Steve's bar attracted all kinds of women, a stunning array, but as a boy I noticed only its improbable assortment of good and bad men. Wandering freely among this unlikely fraternity of alphas, listening to the stories of the soldiers and ballplayers, poets and cops, millionaires and bookies, actors and crooks who leaned nightly against Steve's bar, I heard them say again and again that the differences among them were great, but the reasons they had come to be so different were slight.

A lesson, a gesture, a story, a philosophy, an attitude-I took something from every man in Steve's bar. I was a master at "identity theft" when that crime was more benign. I became sarcastic like Cager, melodramatic like Uncle Charlie, a roughneck like Joey D. I strived to be solid like Bob the Cop, cool like Colt, and to rationalize my rage by telling myself that it was no worse than the righteous wrath of Smelly. Eventually I applied the mimicry I'd learned at Dickens to those I met outside the bar-friends, lovers, parents, bosses, even strangers. The bar fostered in me the habit of turning each person who crossed my path into a mentor, or a character, and I credit the bar, and blame it, for my becoming a reflection, or a refraction, of them all.

Every regular at Steve's bar was fond of metaphors. One old bourbon drinker told me that a man's life is all a matter of mountains and caves-mountains we must climb, caves where we hide when we can't face our mountains. For me the bar was both. My most luxuriant cave, my most perilous mountain. And its men, though cavemen at heart, were my Sherpas. I loved them, deeply, and I think they knew. Though they had experienced everything-war and love, fame and disgrace, wealth and ruin-I don't think they ever had a boy look at them with such shining, worshipful eyes. My devotion was something new to them, and I think it made them love me, in their way, which was why they kidnapped me when I was eleven. But now I can almost hear their voices. Whoa, kid, you're getting ahead of yourself.

Steve would have me say it like this: I fell in love with his bar, and it was reciprocal, and it was this romance that shaped all my others. At a tender age, standing in Dickens, I decided that life is a sequence of romances, each new romance a response to a previous romance. But I was only one of many romantics in Steve's bar who had reached this conclusion, who believed in this chain reaction of love. It was this belief, as much as the bar, that united us, and this is why my story is just one strand in the cord that braided all our love stories together.

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions from the Publisher
1. In the memoir, J.R. has a difficult childhood and family circumstances in many respects, but there are also many positive elements to his childhood, including a loving mother and grandmother. Compare Moehringer's portrait of childhood to other memoirs you've read.

2. There are various portrayals of "good" and "bad" men in the memoir. What are the different definitions of goodness in men?

3. Alcohol permeates the memoir. In what ways is it both a positive and a negative factor in the lives of the various characters?

4. J.R.'s mother is deeply conflicted about her living circumstances. Do you think her experiences are representative of the struggles of many single mothers? Do you think she is a strong character? Did you admire her, or empathize with her?

5. J.R.'s grandmother is tremendously long suffering, verbally abused by both her husband and her son, and forced to put up with her husband's stinginess and philandering. Did you find her a sympathetic character? Did her dilemma feel familiar to you?

6. J.R.'s grandfather is terrible to his wife and children, and mostly terrible to his grandchildren. Yet he has occasional moments of greatness, such as at J.R.'s school breakfast. What do you think motivated J.R.'s grandfather? Did you find him likable?

7. J.R. and his mother spend a good bit of time during his childhood looking at other houses, and the ways that other people live. J.R. even peeks in livingroom windows. Consider the ways that such comparisons might be a positive or a negative influence.

8. J.R. grows up without a present father. How do you think his search for a masculine identity compares to that of men who grew up with fathers--good or bad--who were more present in their lives?

9. The men along the bar are depicted warts and all--did you consider them positive role models? Which of the men was most appealing to you, and why?

10. At various points in his young adulthood, J.R. notices that the men in the bar have conflicting attitudes toward success in other men. What does this stem from? Was it familiar to you?

11. Sports and athletes are tremendously important in the memoir, particularly among the men-- athletes are admired and even deified, and games and matches are focal points of drama in the memoir and the experience of them can even become personal milestones. Consider the importance of sports in men's lives and relationships with each other.

12. Sidney is compared to Daisy in The Great Gatsby. In what other ways do characters and circumstances in The Tender Bar resemble that novel, particularly with respect to class and aspiration?

13. In what ways was J.R.'s enormous ambition a positive element in his life, and in what ways was it the source of pain? Is this inevitable? 14. At the end, J.R. suggests that Sidney wasn't wrong to have wondered about a young man who spent so much time in a bar. Did you find her sympathetic?

15. How did you feel about the epilogue, and the way that the events of the epilogue tied together the themes of the memoir? Did you feel resolution? Did you think J.R. had changed? In what ways?

16. Did you see yourself and any of your own experiences as a parent, child, man or woman in the memoir?

The Tender Bar reading group questions provided by Hyperion Books (c) 2005.

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Tender Bar 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 170 reviews.
eliz31 More than 1 year ago
¿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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Loves2ReadJS More than 1 year ago
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.
DCPPK More than 1 year ago
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.
benmetro More than 1 year ago
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’s thought he’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’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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
... 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?
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Sunnyo More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy read. Have read 2 times in 3 years. Happy, sad, real.
going More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
canyongirl More than 1 year ago
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.
Liesl Istre More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Moving, well written coming of age biography. I've recommended it to all my friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put this book down. The only thing missing were photos of Publicans and some relatives of JR. I identified with his mom in the fact that I raised three sons with no child support and very few visits from their father (when he was in town.)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I feel like I am preaching the gospel of The Tender Bar - I can't stop singing its praises or recommending it to everyone I know. You never want to put it down and when its over you just want it to keep going (or maybe start re-reading it again). Mohrigner is a terrific writer, you feel like you really get o know him and the other characters - you laugh and cray right along with them. I don't know what else to say but read this book! (and hug your mother!)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Simply put, one of the best books I have had the pleasure of reading. In the pages of this book, I became part of J.R.'s world and he became part of mine. A wonderful look into the life of a boy who longed for the father he didn't know, adored the mother who sacraficed so much for him, found comfort and security in the oddities of his extended family and gained a sense of belonging in the bar his uncle tended. A 'Can't put down' read that is fast paced, funny and heartwarming.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Simply a great book and since there aren't enough of those, you should give this one some of your time. It's well worth it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Romanticism of the bar, the drink and eventually the sobriety, Moehringer helps us to fall in love with his life and his loves. The barroom lays bare any and all of his sins and accomplishments. Moehringer allows us to see them through his eyes. A triumphant, tender book!