I lugged this book around for about a year. It was one of five books you could find at the bottom of my backpack. So when my flight home from Idaho was delayed, I fished it out. It was time to read "The Tender Bar."
After about 20 pages or so, I had this uneasy feeling that I had waited to long to read this book. It is the story of a young man that grows up without a father or male role model. The bar, "Dickens" or later renamed, "Publicans", becomes the center stage of the author's life. The characters and patrons within this bar become the author's surrogate fathers. They are oddball characters, drunks, gamblers, carousers. They offer advice, support, and love as the author embarks on the journey we all must take.
It is a story about poverty without pity. It is about the improbability of a poor kid kid getting accepted at Yale. It is about about searching and finding your way in the world, finding your father, finding love, and ultimately finding yourself. It is also about the love and guiding hand of a mother that believes in her son even when that son has doubts or doesn't believe in himself.
I couldn't put the book down. I suppose on several fronts, I knew exactly how the author felt. This book is about emotions and seeking out guidance and sound advice from people in a very improbable place. People just trying to drown out and cope with all of the problems of daily life. They live, they laugh, they fall down, they die.
In the end, our author leaves the bar when it's time for his "last call." He strikes out on his own and finds his way in the world. There is a passage in the book where the remark is made that drinking is one of those things that you never get better at. In the end, the author discovers this to be true and it will make you wonder if he becomes a friend of Bill W. or Dr. Bob of A.A. fame.
There is a message in this book for virtually everyone. It is an excellent book and an uplifting one. As it turns out, I wished I had "fished" it out of that backpack long ago.