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Fiction, Personal

Review – The Tender Bar: J.R. Moehringer

Hearing J.R. Moehringer on NPR today (his new book “Sutton” is a novel based on notorious bank-robber Willie Sutton) reminded me to write about his excellent coming-of-age memoir “The Tender Bar.” As a self-confessed barfly who has always loved the energy, charisma and conviviality of bars (I grew up soaking in Britain’s pub culture), this funny and tender tale of Moehringer’s adolescence and manhood is both warm and witty. The contrast between the platonic ideal of “The Yale Man” and the real men Moehringer encountered on his frequent visits to the barroom is beautifully realized. His long, painful and unrequited love-affair with a Yalie who seems out of his league is poignant, as is his eventual success first as a news reporter, then as a husband, and more recently as a Pulitzer Prize winner and writer of biographies. (He co-wrote Andre Agassi’s “Open” to great critical acclaim.) A recount of one man’s search for his manhood, a quest all of us with absent or missing fathers can empathize with.

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