Silver Lining Book: The Tender Bar

I have just finished the most amazing book:  The Tender Bar.

Usually I’m not a big fan of memoirs; however, I loved the Andre Agassi memoir, Open: An Autobiography.  When I told a friend about my affinity she said, “Well then you must read The Tender Bar” because the author, J.R. Moehringer, collaborated with Agassi.  Ok. She had me at “must”.

Whatagreatpieceofadvice. (You’ll understand the reference when you read the book. And PLEASE read this book!)

The Tender Bar is J.R.’s recollection of his captious upbringing in Manhasset in the 1970s. As a young boy, he finds solace and stability at the local bar, Dickens (renamed Publicans). He said of Publicans, “We went there for everything we needed. We went there when thirsty, of course, and when hungry, and when dead tired. We went there when happy, to celebrate, and when sad, to sulk…”

While fundamentally, it is a story of a boy being raised in a bar, it is so much more than that.  It is a story about finding oneself in the most unlikely of places with the most unlikely of people. It is the portrait of the sort of community that can be as calamitous as it is nurturing. It is the story of drinking too much and stopping.  The story of reading, writing and the power of words. The story of reality and imagination.

I was smitten.

His bar culture images are vivid. His affection for his subjects is tangible.

What struck me most deeply is the dizzying array of opposites found throughout the book:

Joy and Sadness

Life and Death

Love and Heartache

Alcoholism and Sobriety

Peace and War

Loneliness and Companionship

Weakness and Strength

Pain and Pleasure

Hairy and Bald (You’ll also get this reference when you read the book.)


I was on an emotional roller coaster while reading this, feeling sad, happy, frustrated, exhausted. The Tender Bar elicited nearly every emotion that I’ve had on the FBC train.

I have to say that I felt sorry for the HOTY (a/k/a Husband of the Year) while I was reading this book. Can you imagine all of these emotions combined with mind blowing hot flashes?!? Good Grief.

Hope you all enjoy this Silver Lined book as much as I did!

It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.

– Abraham Lincoln



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  1. Mary Beth says

    Hollye, read this book solely based on your recommendation. What a gift…..a SL read.
    Your blog summed it up well….a roller coaster ride of emotions with so many ups, downs, feeble starts, needless stops but then start ups once again. Enjoyed it so thanks for opening me to it.
    Xoxo Mary Beth

  2. says

    My Favorite. Memoir. Ever. He's brilliant and so poignant, yet hilarious. Have you read The Glass Castle? Another good memoir. XO Claudia

  3. Julia Rodgers says

    Did MaryAnne tell you about it? I loved it as well — just finished it before all of our travels. Hoping he writes something else soon!

  4. Cynthia says

    I loved it too! "We went there when we needed to be found.". Doesn't everyone need a Publicans? Xo c.