Closing Time: A Memoir
Joe Queenan isn't really all that funny in this book. He takes pains to put in what he thinks are hilarious descriptions which tend to be overwritten, overwrought, and aimed primarily at making English professors titter.
This book was in dire need of a good editor. I'm halfway through it and it's just too damn long. Yes, I know his father is an alcoholic who beats him and tha ...more
Queenan's story is compelling. The book is difficult to put down. I think it is difficult when you, yourself, have succeeded in spite of a seriously dysfunctional childhood. With harm and not help from parents, you wonder to what heights you could have flown with educated parents who gave even half a damn!
From that source springs Queenan ...more
Unlike Queenan, I'm not an unreconstructed, condescending prick.
This memoir was grueling. The horror that was Queenan's c ...more
When your father is an unemployed alcoholic and your mother has four children she can’t feed and may not even love, and there is no car and no TV and no telephone and no prospects, finding out that a stranger has donated a can of artichoke hearts to the cause is not likely to fill a child’s heart with joy.
As I began reading I thought that maybe I knew too much about poverty and alcoholism to really learn anything from Closing T ...more
Although it is ostensibly about his relationship with his father, the best chapters deal with the characters he encounters during his education and flirtation with joining the priesthood and the various jobs he takes. Of especial note are the proprietor of a low end clothing store, and the owner of a neighborhood pharmacy.
Being a lover of Classical music, I cou ...more
Joe Queenan had an incredibly horrific childhood that everyone in his family tried to escape from an abusive father that enjoyed beating up his children and abusing them mentally as well. He was not a happy drunk nor was he able to hold a job for too long a period. The one thing that Joe has expressed gratitude to his father for is his instilling the love of reading in him ...more
In his review for the New York Times Book Review, James McManus wrote that Closing Time is likely to intensify whatever opinion readers already hold about Joe Queenan. This seemed true for critics, too, who were sharply divided about the book. Some saw it as unflinchingly honestóa memoir of Irish life in America on par with Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes (which, curiously, Queenan panned). But others saw it as a hopelessly cynical, unforgiving, and indulgent memoiróself-pitying in just the way Q...more
I grew up with our good buddy alcohol and could relate to the funny things and none of the bad ones, thankfully. I definitely remember the loud music -- only it was in the middle of the day and it was Irish songs and opera. My dad had a state job, was ready to retire and had over a year of sick d ...more
Unlike many reviewers, I have not only read every single book by Queenan - all of which are completely different from this - but I have liked or loved them all as well. This one is better and deeper and more sharply drawn. His anger and his disappointment shine through this honest, bitter, funny, sad book - along with his mixed up loyalty and love.
Books a ...more
I can't remember where I got the recommendation for this book, but I suspect it was an article on narcissistic parents, since that's ostensibly what this book is about. It sounded frig ...more
The poverty-stricken, alcohol-blasted, violence-riddled Irish or Irish-American childhood is almost a cliche by now. Angela's Ashes, Hungry Hill -- there are plenty of books that attest to the breathtaking cruelty of a certain type of father. Mr. Queenan's book tells this sad ...more
I've read several times that "Closing Time" will amplify a person's preexisting feelings about Queenan--which are often love or hate. Maybe. This was a page turner for me, and a book tha ...more
Somehow he manages to tersely assess horrific moments without falling down on the one hand into maudlin self-pity, and yet not falling down on the other hand into stiff upper lip machismo.
People in this autobiography are not portrayed as total black and white, but in studied shades of grey. His times of self-assessment seem balanced and honest.
The effect of well-meaning and well-actin ...more