Paul Bonamy's Reviews > After Hours: Tales from Ur-Bar

After Hours by Joshua Palmatier
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's review
Jan 17, 2012

really liked it
Read in January, 2012

A man/woman/dog/ghost/time traveler/god walks into a bar. Maybe it's just an ordinary bar, staffed by ordinary people. But maybe, just maybe, it's the Ur-Bar, the one establishment of its age that captures the essence of the very first bar, where the gods of old first granted the ancient Sumerians the recipe for beer. In that case, magic runs more freely than it otherwise might, and the giant of a man behind the bar is Gilgamesh, who found the immortality he sought but at a price.

After Hours is a collection of bar stories, and each touches upon this singular bar in some way. The stories aren't necessarily about the bar, nor its remarkable keeper, but then bar stories are really about people, rather than the place the gather. Each story is set in a different time and place, and they are arranged more or less chronologically, telling a history of the world as seen through the people stumbling into the Ur-Bar. Each author has apparently agreed to abide by some basic guidelines - this is the Ur-Bar, it's overseen by Gilgamesh, etc - but are then free to tell whatever story they choose. The end result is a set of stories ranging from more or less straight-forward historical fiction (aside from the magical bar and its eternal tender) to purely fantastical tales, and everything in between.

On the whole, this is a delightful collection.

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