trickgnosis's Reviews > Closing Time

Closing Time by Joe Queenan
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Feb 03, 2010

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bookshelves: biography-memoir
Read in January, 2010

I read this primarily because Queenan grew up a generation before me in roughly the same parts of Philly that my family is from and where I spent my earliest years. And frankly what I enjoyed most about it was Queenan's confirmation of some of my own ideas about Philadelphia. However, unlike me, Queenan mostly sees the city as a source of ridicule, and given his background it is perhaps understandable that he would not be especially balanced or fair in his account. Otherwise, as memoirs go, it has its ups and downs. His adult fondness for things like French literature and classical music and his scorn for the sorts of things enjoyed by the working class are born of his attempt to escape his drunken, abusive father and the poverty of his childhood. Which is fine, but sometimes feels overdone, particularly in his prose. It occasionally feels as though Queenan is trying very hard to demonstrate the impressive vocabulary at his disposal and this makes for some awkward sentences. Some of the particular stories here go on too long in a way that feels strangely like an attempt at self-justification. This lends the memoir a sort of personal intensity but doesn't always make for a captivating read. I enjoyed the book, but I came away feeling that Queenan has not yet escaped his father's long shadow.
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