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The Last Fine Time
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The Last Fine Time

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  85 ratings  ·  17 reviews
By turns, an elegy, a celebration, and a social history, The Last Fine Time is a tour de force of lyrical style. Verlyn Klinkenborg chronicles the life of a family-owned restaurant in Buffalo, New York, from its days as a prewar Polish tavern to its reincarnation as George & Eddie's, a swank nightspot serving highballs and French-fried shrimp to a generation of optimis ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 1st 2004 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1991)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 163)
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Marjorie Hakala
This is sort of a book-length prose poem that happens to be about a real person, place, and time. I have no idea how Klinkenborg hit upon the idea of writing about Eddie Wenzek and his bar, but it works...except that one is never given a particular reason why this book is about Eddie Wenzek and his bar. Where a more straightforward work of nonfiction would introduce the subject and explain why we should be interested, Klinkenborg introduces the subject by describing how snow falls in Buffalo. It ...more
Paul Secor
I went to college in Buffalo during the last years that this book encompasses. Since I was a student, my life and the lives of the people written about in The Last Fine Time didn't really overlap. The book is a well written remembrance of a time and a milieu that have passed and exist only in the memories of those who lived it and are still alive. For that reason, it's a good thing that Verlyn Klinkenborg mined those memories and wrote this book, and that it's available for anyone who takes the ...more
Don
"The Last Fine Time" has actually been sitting in my To Read pile for 3 years, ever since I read about in one of Peter Egan's essays, which are generally about motorcycles but which frequently touch on cool books and places that Egan has encountered. A few days ago, I was in the mood to read something different so I plucked it out of the pile and opened it up....

It struck me as I was reading The Last Fine Time that some books are written simply, like movies. "First this happened then that happen
...more
Terry Heller
The Last Fine Time is about a bar called George & Eddie's, which was an institution on the east side of Buffalo for 23 years, from 1947-1970. My grandparents on my father's side were regular customers, and good friends with the owner, Eddie Wenzek (they are twice mentioned by name in the book). As a child, my father spent a lot of time playing the bar's back room while his parents and their friends caught up and played pool in the main room.

The book is written in an overly schmaltzy tone tha
...more
Joe Petri
I heard so many good things I expected to love this book and can't wonder if my luke warm reaction was the result of too much build up. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone unfamiliar with Buffalo, NY, though I would for locals with a couple of caveats. Much of the book's charm is the incessant name dropping (to the point of distraction) of local landmarks, foods and long defunct businesses. While such a stroll down our community memory lane will appeal to anyone from Buffalo, the greatest c ...more
Jan
My dad has a minor obsession with this book, which comes as close to depicting his upbringing as most anything I will ever come across. I found the reading itself a bit slow going, partly because my dad had already told me much of the plot points long before I had read it so I was a bit impatient. That said, there were a few descriptions of the blue collar worker experience in the first half of the 20th century that really hit home for me and have helped my frame of reference for years to come. ...more
Meg
Jun 04, 2007 Meg rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Buffalonians
A friend gave me this book because she knows I love my Buffalo roots. It's an account of Buffalo's boom and fall around the '40s, through the experience of one central character - bar owner Eddie Wenzek - and his family. It's interesting in that it gives a lot of neat information about The Buff, mentioning neighborhoods and places that I know. I enjoyed thinking about my grandparents going to the entertainment venues Klinkenborg lists, back in their heyday. All the same, you could cut out about ...more
Paul Jellinek
A remarkable sustained reverie on a time and a place--George and Eddie's in Buffalo, NY circa 1947--that no longer exists but that lives on in Klinkenborg's brilliant prose. At times Klinkenborg wanders a little too far afield and his energy seems to flag, but when he comes back to Eddie and his father Tom and the bar itself, all is well again, and by the end, I wanted nothing more than a chance to have one last drink with Eddie as together we watch the evening sun set over the Thruway on-ramp b ...more
Tom
One of my all-time favorite books. I was born in a Polish neighborhood of Milwaukee, and though we moved to the suburbs when I was very young, we returned often to places much like the Buffalo eating/drinking establishment described by Klinkenborg in this book. To my eyes, ears and memory, Klingenborg perfectly captures a time and place that I have carried with me all my life. Absolutely wonderful. Highly recommended for anyone of Polish-American heritage, or for that matter, for anyone who grew ...more
Finney Jean Soda
Static images and historical digressions, minutely described in stately sentences - Klinkenborg covers nearly a century's worth of activity without you ever realizing that a minute has passed. And isn't that the way that time works? Smart and nostalgic. Less about the family, and more about the decline of Buffalo. This one reminded me how much I love this stinkin' town - nay, ache for it.
Malcolm
This is a gentle and delightful community history of Buffalo's East Side Polish community in the period after WW2, told through the lives of people who frequent a restaurant-come-bar. It is a community memoir of hope and loss, of change and what was, written in a poetic and engaging style. Quite gorgeous.
Autumn
Lovely meditative read about Buffalo, urban flight, emigration, and family. Especially enjoyable because I have family from Buffalo.
David
a wonderful history about a family and bar in the unplucked gem of a city, buffalo, new york.
GT
Klinkenborg's writing is indulgent; intimate. It is your uncle telling you a story.
Jennifer
Great book about the Buffalo of the past.
Amanda
Jan 09, 2008 Amanda marked it as to-read
have been "reading" this since 2005...
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Verlyn Klinkenborg is a member of the editorial board of The New York Times. His previous books include Making Hay, The Last Fine Time, and The Rural Life. He lives in upstate New York.
More about Verlyn Klinkenborg...
Several Short Sentences About Writing Timothy, or Notes of an Abject Reptile The Rural Life More Scenes from the Rural Life Making Hay

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