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The Tender Bar: A Memoir

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  22,104 ratings  ·  2,159 reviews
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.
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Published August 1st 2006 by Hyperion (first published 2005)
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Julie Loftus No. He did have a desperate need for a male role model (many) . He had knowledge of his mother's love and commitment to his upbringing.. I believe his…moreNo. He did have a desperate need for a male role model (many) . He had knowledge of his mother's love and commitment to his upbringing.. I believe his mother knew this.(less)
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What's This Book About?
From The Tender Bar by J. R. Moehringer:

"I hate when people ask what a book is about. People who read for plot, people who suck out the story like the cream filling in an Oreo, should stick to comic strips and soap operas. . . . Every book worth a damn is about emotions and love and death and pain. It's about words. It's about a man dealing with life. Okay?"

Okay! Pulling this excerpt from page 335 of this 416 page book, I feel, allows me to use the author's own words to de
Debbie Petersen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Richard Sutton
Here's the thing. I'm a writer. I'm not a proofreader or an editor. When I read, I read for the pleasure of a good story with memorable, honest (not cardboard) characters. I'm not hard on other writer's work, unless they really disappoint me. An occasional repeat of an expression, a dropped comma, a misused semicolon -- none of these bother me unless they stop the read cold, and only then, if I can't pick it up again. It happens. I'm not a complete masochist, but I have noticed that most of the ...more
I really loved The Tender Bar! Any book that can sweep you into a story and its beautifully rendered characters (all the more beautiful, poignant, and powerful because they are real) is worthy of recognition, and I found this memoir to be fascinating and enormously moving. It was also interesting from its snapshot of a slice of American and local history: Manhasset, Long Island, in the 70s and 80s and into the early 21st century. The author, being raised by his mother in her father's dysfunction ...more
Just read for book club. Its an easy read. I guess I was interested in his life and the history on Long Island makes it easy to identify with. I just feel like I have been down this road before with a memoir. Dysfunctional family, overcoming it all and going to Yale, etc..etc...and does he whine about it. He never stops!

He continues to show the people in his life addicted to alcohol, drugs, and gambling in a postive light - even when sometimes the outcome of such a life is horrible- he still ho
Steve Piacente

Oh, the damage an absent father can do. No-show, no-care dads practice a different brand of abuse than fathers who use their fists, but the distinction is lost on the little boy waiting curbside for a dad who isn’t coming. Given a choice, the boy might even opt for corporal punishment over icy indifference.

J.R. Moehringer captures the lives of many such boys in his poignant memoir, “The Tender Bar.” Moehringer’s radio personality dad was MIA so often, he came to think of his dad as “The Voice,”
Oct 02, 2007 Therese rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who enjoy sitcom-like memoirs
Jeesh. I picked this up for my husband's birthday and decided to read it myself. I was so excited. I got it from a local book store where one of the book clerks wrote an amazing review. I thought it was going to be about bar culture and the magical and redemptive qualities that can be found in your local bar/pub. I was wrong. It's mostly a memoir of Moehinger's boyhood and college days at Yale. The lack of male role models is a constant and boring theme that runs throughout the book. The love of ...more
Two friends of mine claimed this was their favorite book, which is probably the only reason why I made myself finish this long, whining memoir. JR Moehringer starts off with a nice premise: He wants to write about the Long Island bar he grew up in, and the wild cast of characters at the bar who filled in for his absent, dead-beat dad. Moehringer's got some funny stories, and he's pretty good at capturing the moods of the bar and describing the people in his life. But at the end of the book, all ...more
Apr 23, 2007 Abby rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who don't mind listening to other people talk about themselves
While reading, I wrote this:
Working on it. Mom's book club. Came in a box with Valentine's Day goodies, including:
- A heart-shaped potholder
- Cups with hearts on them
- Candy hearts
- A heart-shaped PEZ dispenser
- Pink footie socks
- 3 or maybe 4 V-Day cards, they keep turning up in odd places, like wedged into The Tender Bar.
- Pink rubber duckies with hearts on them
- My camera battery charger

A good story. A bicentennial sofa. A little deliberate, but I'm still going.

After reading, I write this:
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 20, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Tata J
Shelves: memoirs
John Joseph Moehringer (born 1964) grew up in Manhasset, New York. He is a graduate of Yale and used to work at New York Times and won the Pulitzer Award for Feature Writing in 2000. This memoir, The Tender Bar is the recollection of his childhood up to his early adulthood. Published in 2005, when Andre Agassi read this book, he asked Moehringer to collaborate with him the writing of his own memoir, Open published last year, 2009. You must be seeing that book prominently displayed in your bookst ...more
i found this to be a memoir with a lot of heart but little literary value. what moehringer does very well is create a vivid atmosphere, using dialogue in particular to paint a picture that you can easily imagine as if you were in the room with him. i read in a separate review that the most interesting thing about the author is the people he knows - and it's true, the characters in this book are very colorful and tend to overshadow moehringer's self-absorbed drama. another reason to enjoy the boo ...more
I really enjoyed this book. I found myself laughing out loud while reading it. The book is basically about his coming of age and most of it takes place at a local pub on Long Island where his uncle was a bartender. I really like his style and how the chapters are like short stories, yet they follow a timeline. I really got to like the author; he reminds me of a straight version of Sedaris or Borroughs.

The missing star is mainly a pet peeve I have about the epilogue, which I recommend you skip.
Not a bad memoir; not particularly gripping, but very vivid in its way of person-description-by-storytelling. Probably the least "woe is me, I'm a drunk" and most interesting "look how I became a reporter for Times" book out there. And still, it became rambly. About two-thirds of the way through, I wondered why so many pages remained and what Moehringer could possibly have left to tell me that was so darned important. I hate when the story seems over and the book keeps going. Of course, I claim ...more
This book was required reading for a memoir class that I audited last year. I must confess, I’m not a fan of memoirs that are soaked in booz, but I did my usual quick read through to get the story and found that, though appalled at times, I did enjoy the story and cared very much for J R and his mother. The Tender Bar title is a play on words. Growing up in the bar, J R was not coddled, but he was tended to or watched out for by a series of regular bar customers and bar tenders. I think of the f ...more
This is an incredibly honest book by an incredibly good story teller. JR grew up with an absent father and ended up with many "fathers", and one enormously strong and dedicated mother. I, too, grew up with an absent father and an enormously strong and dedicated mother so I could relate to much of his emotional upheaval at times. My heart was breaking when his father didn't show up after telling him he would be there to take him to a baseball game.

During my reading of this book, I also saw a hal
Agnes Mack
Another book I want to jump in down and scream READ THIS BOOK about. And not just because I'm a drunk! I've read a lot of novels that involved drunks/bars. They are either over the top dramatic, OMG! BOOZE WILL KILL ME! Or, "Yeah, I drink 2 pints of Whisky a night and get fired all the time. What?" I felt this book was really honest about the whole boozing all the time issue. The guy does eventually stop drinking but he doesn't have all these awful things happen to him. Shit just changes. And he ...more
Patrick Gibson
Apr 12, 2009 Patrick Gibson rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Patrick by: Suzanne, David and a bunch of you guys
This is a curious way to preface a book: “I needed a family, a home, and men. Especially men. I needed men as mentors, heroes, role models, and as a kind of masculine counterweight to my mother, grandmother, aunt and five female cousins with whom I lived. The bar provided me with all the men I needed, and one or two men who were the last thing I needed.”

It’s not what you think.

And I can’t really write any comments on this book. Six trillion people love it—and two don’t. I am the other one.

I found this book by reading Andre Aggasi's memoir, "Open", in which he describes how taken he was by "The Tender Bar" and how this led to his collaboration with J.R. Moehringer. I was equally engrossed in the book and could hardly put it down over the course of a week or so during which I read the entire thing (which, for me, is 2x-3x my normal turnover rate for a book of comparable length).

The book is a wonderful memoir of a tough childhood (J.R. Moehringer grew up without a father in his lif
I initially fell in love with this memoir, and for 150 pages could not put it down. This is when Moehringer describes his childhood in a dysfunctional broken-down home in Long Island and his search on the radio air waves for his missing father's voice. He writes hauntingly and convincingly of his childhood anxieties, much of which center on protecting his mother, and his drive to take care of her. He describes his early discovery of the neighborhood bar, where his Uncle Charlie worked, and found ...more
Thomas Holbrook
One must have a “place” in order to be. Without a place to stand, one cannot perceive the idea of belonging. For many, if not most, of us spend a great deal of our “growing up” years sorting out just where that “place” is. This mythical location that is more real than the keys of this computer, is made up of: physical location, culture, belief, what is ingested, speech, language and a multitude of other factors that are as imperceptible as the “daily recommended allowance” of needed vitamins and ...more
Alan Chen
I read this book years ago but wanted to write a review because of how special the book is for me. The story itself is simple: J.R. grew up in bars, he loved to drink, became a journalist and quit drinking. What's incredible about this book is how detailed Moehringer is, how well he described his friends, how his identity was formed there, the lives that these people led, and how it spiraled out of control for him. It's partly an homage to his bar and the guys there that were his heroes/teachers ...more
5 stars! My friend Beth wanted me to read this for ages! I still have tears in my eyes at the poignancy of this memoir.

I don't think I can write a review of The Tender Bar. I just really liked it and am happy I read it and would tell others to read it too. It is very sad though.

It's amazing how well he wrote, using such great descriptive words that you really could almost feel you were right there with him experiencing it all.

I'd recommend it!
I first heard about this memoir from a male acquaintance who raved about the portrait it painted of a fatherless boy becoming a man under the tutelage of a handful of characters who frequented a pub down the street from his home. And the book did start off promisingly enough, with an overview chapter that demonstrated the author knew something about how to construct a sentence and intriguing teasers for events in the coming pages.

I hadn't gotten very far into the author's descriptions of his un
I don't read a lot of non-fiction (I MAKE myself read something every summer), and memoir is my least favorite type in this genre. I just find it so often unbelievably dramatic or annoyingly whiny. This book, however, is intelligently and poignantly written, and very honest! The author, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, struggles from an early age to replace the father who abandons him and finds the stable "home" he is looking for in, of all places, the bar where his uncle works. A bonus is t ...more
What can I say about “The Tender Bar”? Out of all the memoirs I read this was not my favorite, but it wasn’t bad either. Like many memoirs it’s the story of getting over the hump, over coming hardships; poverty, single parent households; education; etc. What I also enjoyed about the book (which is why it got a higher rating) was the idea of male presence and what effect it had on the author. Obviously the author felt so connected and obliged in a way to write this book about this bar. The title ...more
Masterful and wonderful to read. Like a good scotch, The Tender Bar should not be rushed through and instead, savored slowly and thoroughly. Also like scotch, it took me a couple of exposures to The Tender Bar before I started liking it.

The first exposure was when my husband and I were researching bars we should visit while in Tokyo. During my googling, I found a few mentions of this book but read a blurb about it and thought it sounded boring, so I let it slip my mind. In Tokyo, we visited an e
Ognuno di noi ha un luogo sacro, un rifugio, dove il suo cuore è più puro, la sua mente più lucida, dove si sente più vicino a Dio o all’amore o alla verità o a qualunque cosa gli capiti di venerare. Nel bene e nel male, il mio luogo sacro era il bar di Steve. E poiché l’avevo scoperto durante l’infanzia, era ancora più sacro, avvolto dalla particolare reverenza che hanno i bambini per i posti in cui si sentono al sicuro. Per altri poteva essere un’aula o un parco giochi, un teatro o una chiesa, ...more
Sunil Maulik
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 m ...more
Jody  Julian
"I used to say I'd found in Steve's bar the fathers I needed, but this wasn't quite right. At some point the bar itself became my father, its dozens of men melding me into one enormous male eye looking over my shoulder, providing that needed alternative to my mother, that Y chromosome to her X".--JR Moehringer, pg. 9 of prologue

I keep saying this memoir reminded me of an American version of Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes". However, it's the essence more than the actual details that brings me
J.R. Moehringer's The Tender Bar describes Moehringer's experience as a boy growing up in decrepit, old house with his cynical grandfather, his grandmother, and his mother, in the town of Manhasset, New York. It is a well-crafted memoir tracking the development of a fatherless boy with aspirations to make something of his life. Searching for a mentor, Moehringer manages to find a group of men from a local bar to serve as a collective fatherly figure. They teach him the ins and outs of sports, be ...more
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Author's Oct 2001 LA Times article 1 6 Oct 16, 2015 12:59PM  
BEP090T1: The Voice 1 3 Nov 04, 2014 02:57PM  
The Trail 103.3 B...: wrap up 2 8 Apr 02, 2014 04:40PM  
The Trail 103.3 B...: How to be a man 3 7 Mar 31, 2014 09:40AM  
The Trail 103.3 B...: Welcome! 3 4 Mar 18, 2014 03:37PM  
The Trail 103.3 B...: beautiful liar 1 7 Mar 13, 2014 11:50AM  
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J.R. Moehringer is an American journalist and author. Born in New York City and raised in Manhasset, New York, he is a former national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.

A 1986 graduate of Yale University, Moehringer began his journalism career as a news assistant at The New York Times.

He won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 2000.
More about J.R. Moehringer...

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“While I fear that we're drawn to what abandons us, and to what seems most likely to abandon us, in the end I believe we're defined by what embraces us.” 39 likes
“I don't know. Sometimes I try to say what's on my mind and it comes out sounding like I ate a dictionary and I'm shitting pages. Sorry” 35 likes
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