Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Book Review: The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer

As the mother of 3 YEAR old and 3 WEEK old sons, you know a book has to be pretty good to get me blogging on it rather than using my downtime to research tube-tying surgery.

It's been some time since I have been truly inspired by an author (perhaps since Elizabeth Gilbert) and I am delighted to have discovered J.R. Moehringer. I know I said I was going to review some other books first but I got sleepy. So here are the other mini-reviews:

A Life in Smoke: A Memoir by Julia Hansen (4 stars, as a former smoker, really enjoyed it.)

Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen (2.5 stars. It was OK, but only because I have nothing else to read, otherwise a bit boring)

Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment by Deepak Chopra (3 stars. A little disappointing, slightly boring)

I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron (3.5 stars, A little shallow, mildly humorous)

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky (4 stars, love those WWII genre books, true life all the better, still, not the best book Ive read from that era, but interesting)

The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls (4.5 stars, great memoir, really unique story)

Ok, so back to The Tender Bar...

First, I wasn't so sure about this book because the name was a little off-putting. I didn't know what it meant. I have this idea that women do most of the leisure reading, is that wrong and sexist? Maybe, but I doubt it. So, given that, the title of "bar" and the write up that it was about some guy growing up near a bar, though I love to knock some back when the opportunity arises, didn't inspire me. It sounded like a book for guys. Still, I was in a book lull, so I gave it a shot.

Well I will pull out the oldest cliche for JR- you know some people can play the notes, while others make beautiful music. JR is a writer in the truest and most elegant sense. Words must follow him around like the pied piper in endless admiration. He has "the Gift". It makes me never want to write anything again, which is how I typically react to other peoples good fortune and talents.

And yes, it is about him growing up near a bar, sort of, but it's really more about relationships and an incredibly funny/witty/wry guy and his perspective on life. He has amazing self clarity and it was a joy to read his prose. I'm sounding like a lunatic I sense, but while his story wasn't inspiring the way Eat Pray and Love was, his writing is so captivating, I'd gladly read about him taking out garbage.

Like most of my lazy reviews, I didn't summarize his book or plot, but suffice it to say, this guy deserves to be at the top of the Best Sellers list and he needs to write more- if he can. Sometimes, I think, telling ones own story has a charm that cannot be replicated in other stories, but still, JR should give it a shot because he is so funny and well, yes, I demand it.

I also wonder how people can write memoirs that include other people where the writers assessment of them lays them so bare. Are they friendless outcasts after publication? I get yelled at for even relaying a story under a fake name in my never-read blog, I cant imagine how some people feel about showing up in a best seller.

That random diatribe aside, this is a 5 star book because his writing is so charming and funny- he is truly in the class of great writers.

Buy the book!


OTRgirl said...

Just wandered over via a Good Blogs link. I enjoy your writing 'voice' and will check out the book.

I've also wondered about memoir writers lives after the book. My husband freaks out when I write too many details about him on my blog, I can't imagine what the reaction would be if I did a book.

And the book I want to do is "Stranger that I love: Surviving a Spouse in Medical Training." I think I'd get in trouble...

Anonymous said...

i've been looking forward to reading the julia hansen book a life in smoke, i got this book discarded from the library for fifty cents. it was in brand-new condition, not sure why it was discarded except maybe lack of interest, sometimes the library will discard books that dont get checked out even if they're in new condition. i am a smoker and tried quitting a few times without success. even tried the new stop-smoking drug chantix but it didnt curb my craving for cigarettes and caused pretty severe nausea and stomach pain. i liked that the book seemed a non-judgemental take on the reasons, social, physical and psychological, that people turn to cigarettes (and by extension, other drugs such as alcohol and illegal drugs). glad i got ahold of this book and maybe it will inspire me to find a way to quit successfully.