Let's Discuss: The Tender Bar by J. R. Moehringer

  • Mar 7, 2013 · 7:00 PM

"Long before it legally served me, the bar saved me," asserts J.R. Moehringer, and his compelling memoir The Tender Bar is the story of how and why. A Pulitzer-Prize winning writer for the Los Angeles Times, Moehringer grew up fatherless in pub-heavy Manhasset, New York, in a ramshackle house crammed with cousins and ruled by an eccentric, unkind grandfather. Desperate for a paternal figure, he turns first to his father, a DJ whom he can only access via the radio (Moehringer calls him The Voice and pictures him as "talking smoke"). When The Voice suddenly disappears from the airwaves, Moehringer turns to his hairless Uncle Charlie, and subsequently, Uncle Charlie's place of employment--a bar called Dickens that soon takes center stage.

More than anything else, Moehringer's book is a homage to the culture of the local pub. That's where young J.R. seeks out the companionship of male role models, where he receives an education that has served him well in his career and where, inevitably, he looks for love, bemoans its absence and mourns its loss. Moehringer grew up in Manhasset, a place, he writes, that "believed in booze." At a young age, he became a regular—not a drinker, of course, for he was far too young. But while still tender of years, he was introduced to the culture, to the companionship and—yes—to the romance of it all. "Everyone has a holy place, a refuge, where their heart is purer, their mind clearer, where they feel close to God or love or truth or whatever it is they happen to worship," he writes.

This is a book that's more loving and warm, even more functional(!), than anyone would think a bar could be.

For anyone who seeks to understand a man, or is one.

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  • Alice

    Sorry to have missed the meeting but I too really enjoyed the book. I really appreciated the richness of the characters. there was good and bad in each of them. I also thought he was channeling the the "The Great Gatsby" not only with its location in Long Island but also in the character of Sidney. I could see comparisons. Makes me want to read that book again.

    March 10, 2013

  • Renee W.

    Enjoyed my first book club meet up Looking forward to more. And IsabelAlende will be at bookshop Santa Cruz may 21!

    March 9, 2013

    • Meredith

      Wow! Who wants to go? Me, me!

      March 9, 2013

  • Meredith


    March 8, 2013

  • Daryl Abeille S.

    It ends up I have work dead lines which I have got to meet! I was not able to finish "The tender bar" but have enjoyed it thus far. By the way I liked "Telegraph" but then I'm a SF native, and enjoyed all the Oakland-Berkeley nostalgia.

    March 7, 2013

  • Denise

    Enjoyed the book, but fighting a migraine. Sorry to miss out on the discussion.

    March 7, 2013

  • Meredith


    March 7, 2013

  • Renee W.

    I will be attending. Enjoyed the book!

    March 4, 2013

  • Alice

    I will be able to stay only a short time because I promised a friend a ride to the airport.
    I enjoyed the book.

    March 2, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I am absolutely LOVING The Tender Bar! Will be curious to hear how others feel about the book.

    February 17, 2013

  • Jane M.

    I very much enjoyed The Tender Bar and would read it again.

    February 14, 2013

  • Renee W.

    Yes I hope to attend finally! and no I didn't like Telegraph Avenue...at least the little I read!
    Looking forward to meeting everyone.

    February 5, 2013

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