To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.
Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!
My book today is another “graduate” of my Old TBR stacks, dubbed “old” by their longevity on said stacks. Which means that the book just got lost in the shuffle. The Tender Bar, by J. R. Moehringer, is a memoir.
J .R. Moehringer grew up listening for a voice: It was the sound of his missing father, a disc jockey who disappeared before J.R. spoke his first words. As a boy, J.R. would press his ear to a clock radio, straining to hear in that resonant voice the secrets of masculinity, and the keys to his own identity. J.R.’s mother was his world, his anchor, but he needed something else, something more, something he couldn’t name. So he turned to the bar on the corner, a grand old New York saloon that was a sanctuary for all types of men-cops and poets, actors and lawyers, gamblers and stumblebums. The flamboyant characters along the bar-including J.R.’s Uncle Charlie, a Humphrey Bogart look-alike; Colt, a Yogi Bear sound-alike; Joey D, a soft-hearted brawler; and Cager, a war hero who raised handicapping horses to an art-taught J.R., tended him, and provided a kind of fatherhood by committee. When the time came for J.R. to leave home, the bar became a way station-from his entrance to Yale, where he floundered as a scholarship student way out of his element; to his introduction to tragic romance with a woman way out of his league; to his stint as a copy boy at the New York Times, where he was a faulty cog in a vast machine way out of his control. Through it all, the bar offered shelter from failure, from rejection, and eventually from reality-until at last the bar turned J.R. away.Riveting, moving, and achingly funny, The Tender Bar is at once an evocative portrait of one boy’s struggle to become a man, and a touching depiction of how some men remain lost boys.
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.
Already I feel the poignancy of this tale from these opening lines. I know it will be sad, but I’m also hoping there will be joy somewhere in all this neediness.
p. 56: My mother pulled me to her and said she felt horrible about frightening me, but she couldn’t help herself. “I’m so tired,” she said. “Tired of worrying and struggling and being so—so—alone.“
What do the rest of you want to share today? I hope you’ll stop in with your comments and links.