Thursday, December 13, 2012

ReView of 'The Tender Bar' by JR. Moehringer

NonFiction - Autobiography/Memoir; 432pgs
Hyperion Publications (first published 2005)

A fairly beautiful account of childhood into adulthood of a man whose owes much of his growth to the bar culture he grew up in.  This book scoops out all the minor and major details of his life in the atmosphere of the bar as it pertains to his transition from child to man.  JR Moehringer has crafted this book so well it will leave everyone who starts reading it with plenty to talk about.  

If this book taught me one lesson about what makes a great memoir it is this.  The reason this memoir leaves a lasting impression on you has both to do with the style of the writing as well as with the power of the writing.  JR Moehringer is well known, in regards to this memoir especially, for his attention to detail and specificity of words.  That makes this book immaculate, as far as the writing goes.  Furthermore, the book stays true to his stages of growth.  The part of his childhood is child-like, the parts of his adulthood are complex, and everything in between is well placed with appropriate relationships in order to characterize every moment of his life accordingly and with needed particularity.

Something I found intriguing is how the book has created three aspects for a memorable book you must read.  At times attachments are bad, but in this case it isn't, or is it?.  It is thoroughly known that the main thesis of the book is about how he grew with with a single mother since his father abandoned them when he was very young.  Add to this bullet point the fact that JR Moehringer is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for the LA Times, and the locale for the memoir is Manhasset, the basis of the fictional East Egg in The Great Gatsby, and you've got yourself a melting pot of three angles on which YOU know YOU WANT to read THIS memoir.  Or maybe not.  But you can't omit these three main elements will not affect your choice to read it or not to read it.

If there is something unique and special about this memoir, it would have to be this.  The fact that J.R Moehringer has managed to write a piece of nonfiction that reads like fiction and helps the reader relate even to the moments that may feel distanced or even far from your life.  It is a commendable quality I appreciate of any author.  And for this particular reason, mostly, I would recommend this book to anyone. You don't have to know or even understand the bar culture to know, understand, and even relate to some of the stories in the memoir.  THAT is a powerful component of this fictional nonfiction.  

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