The Tender Bar by J. R. Moehringer

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The New York Times bestseller and one of the 100 Most Notable Books of 2005. In the tradition of This Boy's Life and The Liar's Club, a raucous, poignant, luminously written memoir about a boy striving to become a man, and his romance with a bar.

J.R. Moehringer grew up captivated by a voice. It was the voice of his father, a New York City disc jockey who vanished before J.R. spoke his first word. Sitting on the stoop, pressing an ear to the radio, J.R. would strain to hear in that plummy baritone the secrets of masculinity and identity. Though J.R.'s mother was his world, his rock, he craved something more, something faintly and hauntingly audible only in The Voice.

At eight years old, suddenly unable to find The Voice on the radio, J.R. turned in desperation to the bar on the corner, where he found a rousing chorus of new voices. The alphas along the bar--including J.R.'s Uncle Charlie, a Humphrey Bogart look-alike; Colt, a Yogi Bear sound-alike; and Joey D, a softhearted brawler--took J.R. to the beach, to ballgames, and ultimately into their circle. They taught J.R., tended him, and provided a kind of fathering-by-committee. Torn between the stirring example of his mother and the lurid romance of the bar, J.R. tried to forge a self somewhere in the center. But when it was time for J.R. to leave home, the bar became an increasingly seductive sanctuary, a place to return and regroup during his picaresque journeys. Time and again the bar offered shelter from failure, rejection, heartbreak--and eventually from reality.

In the grand tradition of landmark memoirs, The Tender Bar is suspenseful, wrenching, and achingly funny. A classic American story of self-invention and escape, of the fierce love between a single mother and an only son, it's also a moving portrait of one boy's struggle to become a man, and an unforgettable depiction of how men remain, at heart, lost boys.

About J. R. Moehringer

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J.R. Moehringer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2000, is a former national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times and a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. Moehringer is the author of the New York Times bestselling The Tender Bar and coauthor of Open by Andre Agassi.
Published September 1, 2005 by Hachette Books. 432 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Business & Economics, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Arts & Photography, Cooking, Parenting & Relationships, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Tender Bar

Kirkus Reviews

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A straight-up account of masculinity, maturity and memory that leaves a smile on the face and an ache in the heart.

Sep 01 2005 | Read Full Review of The Tender Bar

Kirkus Reviews

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These included Hyperion president Bob Smith, who proudly went on record as saying, “I laughed and I cried,” and publicity assistant Brittain Palmedo, who says she’s giving the book to all her friends.

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Kirkus Reviews

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Moehringer evokes the sights, sounds and smells that gave Publicans (originally known as Dickens) its sodden charm: not just the beer and the fund of coins accumulating in the urinal, but the “faint notes of perfumes and colognes, hair tonics and shoe creams, lemons and steaks and cigars and news...

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Publishers Weekly

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Moehringer capably reads his own memoir, which takes him from a peripatetic Long Island childhood to life as a budding journalist at the New York Times .

Oct 03 2005 | Read Full Review of The Tender Bar

Publishers Weekly

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Moehringer's lovely evocation of an ordinary place filled with ordinary people gives dignity and meaning to those lost lives, and to his own.

Jun 27 2005 | Read Full Review of The Tender Bar


If you have ever spent time in a neighborhood bar, you will understand the ‘family’ JR found at Dickens and how the support from these men helped him through many tough periods in his life.

Jan 24 2012 | Read Full Review of The Tender Bar

Book Reporter

Moehringer skillfully recreates life at the local bar and the colorful characters inside as a sort of celebration, almost memorializing a part of American life that doesn't exist the way it used to --- a sort of modern-day A CLEAN, WELL-LIGHTED PLACE for the 20th/21st century, while also serving ...

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of The Tender Bar

Entertainment Weekly

The air was the color of beer, and smelled of beer, and each breath tasted like beer — malted, foamy, thick.'' Publicans — with its ''scintillating talk, which could jump from horse racing to politics to fashion to astrology to baseball to historic love affairs, all in the span of one be...

Aug 31 2005 | Read Full Review of The Tender Bar

USA Today

This is our work, our salvation, and this link between lying and trying was one of my mother's many gifts to me, the truth that always lay just beneath her lies."He realizes that maybe a bar wasn't the best place to spend all his free time and that "drinking and trying felt like opposite impulses...

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JR Moehringer's simple words drew me into the pages, as if through the door of that Tender Bar: "We went there for everything we needed.

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Bookmarks Magazine

Jenny Shank Minneapolis Star Tribune 3 of 5 Stars "This isn’t .

Oct 15 2007 | Read Full Review of The Tender Bar

The Paris Review

McPhee came to believe that “in the resonance between the two sides, added dimension might develop,” and by his own assessment—in the case of Ashe, who was black and whose “swinging freely is something that scares players of all nations,” versus Graebner, white, whose strokes made other players s...

Sep 12 2012 | Read Full Review of The Tender Bar

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