READ IT: The Last Bar in NYC

Sunday, June 4, 2017

THE LAST BAR IN NYC
BY: Brian Michels

Published: April 24th 2016 by AntiStar
Genres: memoir, fiction, food & drink, alcohol
Pages: 248
Format: Kindle/Ebook
Source: I received this book from the author for review
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

BOOK SYNOPSIS:
"Thank heaven for New York City bartenders. They satisfy your boozy thirst in a strife filled life and a good one will listen to anything on your mind when no one else will. Our barman/narrator is one of the good ones. He’s been disposed under chins and elbows and cocktail napkins and ashtrays and spilled drinks for decades in New York City for countless drinkers willing to confess anything to a bar top. From one bar stool to another our barman’s raw and soulful voice delivers a metropolitan story of good times, struggle, regret and salvation - a story put together with well-known real life places, countless celebrity faces and amazing characters only found in New York City. Maybe you live in New York or simply wondered about living there. Maybe you’ve dreamed of tending a bar or owning a bar or sitting in a bar in New York City. Maybe you’ve always wanted to meet a bartender from the prohibition era who pissed into Al Capone’s beer or a horse-betting Rabbi that can explain the world order or see Mickey Mantle fall down drunk with his face buried in a filthy barroom toilet. Maybe you’re interested in a wine and beer stained, cigarette burned oak top metamorphism that will add some hardened experience to your teetotaler life. Or maybe you just have a tiny sadistic stripe and you’d like to witness what a big city, countless smokes and lots of drugs, liquor, sex, and bearing witness to the eternal under the neon glare of Times Square can do to somebody, to anybody. From 1966 and his first job in a South Bronx bar at 4 years old opening cans of beer to shining shoes in bars across the Bronx to serving booze in iconic bars and restaurants all over Manhattan our Barman spars with the life force of New York City for fifty years until last call when he’s faced with an unforeseen betrayal and is left almost broke, without a plan and nearly a hollow man. That is until he learns to forgive and luckily realize that life without warning has just begun."

First Impressions/Cover? (Because we judge the covers even though we’re ‘not supposed to’)
It was okay. I didn't love it but I didn't hate it. I think it fits the book well, and portrays the colorful city life that I would think of for NYC Bars. It's a good fit. 

How did you experience the book? Were you engaged immediately or did it take you awhile to get into it? How did you feel reading it - amused, sad, confused, bored...? 
I had the hardest time getting into this book in the beginning, then got into it a few chapters in, then fell back off. Throughout this book I kept thinking how much I felt like I did when I read The Catcher in The Rye. I think that would very much be considered a compliment, as Catcher in the Rye is a classic and loved by many. Just as I also think is the case with this book, especially based off of the numerous amounts of 4-5 star ratings it has received. For me, and my personal taste and style, I didn’t enjoy these memoirs as much as I’d hoped I would. I really wanted to love this novel. After talking to the author and reading a couple of online interviews with him, I was sure I would love his writing style, and I did. What kept me from giving it a 4-5 star rating was that there was a lot of extra details that felt overwhelming rather than adding importance to the story. Not quite half way through reading I felt so much had already happened and I was not getting the “lead up” or mystery pulling me back in and leaving me on the edge of my seat, wondering “What’s going to happen next?”. 

What characters did you like best from the book? Why? 
As I mentioned, this book reminded me of The Catcher in the Rye, however, in that novel I couldn't stand the main character. In this memoir I thought the main character was interesting, hardworking, and funny. I enjoyed reading about his background and family history. 

Favorite/Insightful passages?
"I liked what they said because it made me feel better about pissing my pants"
Only because this made me laugh out loud while reading :-) 

Was the ending satisfying (no spoilers)? 
Referring back to what I said about having no "lead up" or suspense, there was no ending to fall back down to. Which is what I enjoy in books. However, I do enjoy reading about and have a great respect for others that can take a hard upbringing or past and make things better for themselves in the end. Having to work as a young child to help support the family and his fathers drinking & gambling, only to make something of himself, follow his dreams, and find success makes for a captivating story worth reading. 

If you could ask the author a question, what would you ask? 
I've had conversations with the author, but something I haven't asked that I'm curious to know is if he plans on writing any fiction novels? Because I love his writing style, I would be interested to see what he came out with that was fiction. 

Final Thoughts:
I think my opinion of this book and feeling like I was missing something is based more off of my personal style and love for thrillers than it is of Michels' writing talents. His memoir is the third that I’ve read that had similar style and flow, and I felt this same way about all of them. Perhaps I don’t enjoy memoirs as much as I thought? However, as I mentioned, I did love this author's writing style and the personality that came through in his words, and for this reason I will continue to follow this him. I look forward to seeing what he comes out with in the future, he’s someone to watch for.

What's next? 


This is my circus and these are my monkeys

The last two months has been craaaazy  and I'm going to throw a pretty short n' sweet post your way just to say "Hey, how are you, I'm still alive and breathing and here's what's been up".

Finding time to shower has become an actual life struggle, let alone finding time to do any writing & blogging. Fulfilling my goal of one day writing a novel got moved to my "To do in my next lifetime" list. Even sitting down to write this post took twice as long to do because two of my kids saw me typing and then that turned into "Oh, I want to type something!" and ended up with them typing random letters into a blank word document for a solid 15 minutes, both pounding the keyboard with excessive force. I truly did not know if my "C" key would even work for this post.

So much has been going on, and it's stressful and chaotic at times, but it's been filled with fun activities from my active and healthy family, which I can't complain about and feel so blessed to have in my life. There is such a thing as good chaos, even if it doesn't always feel like it. Between the daily life of chores, housework, bills, working, and all the adulting Marty and I are required to do, the kids schedules have been keeping us plenty busy on top of everything else with school ending and summer beginning. 
As the younger kids were finishing out school with spring concerts and field trips (seemed like they had something going in daily), we also got the garden started at home (which has since been neglected already and needs restarted. awesome), and ball season got underway before school even ended. Brody also decided to play ball this year as well, and thankfully his season beginning and Gradey's ending are just overlapping, rather than having both going on at the same time. Brody is still in his cast from his hand surgery he had back in February, so although he doesn't get to play much, he's really loving being a part of a team and getting to practice and play any time he gets. Gradey had a great ball season. He had new coaches this year and improvement showed in the whole team and they finished the season 9-2-1! Max is thinking of starting baseball this year with soft pitch, which is a shorter season for younger kids that introduces them to getting the hang of the basics and comfortable with catching and hitting the ball. When the boys aren't at practice and games, they have a game going in town with all the other neighborhood boys. I love their love for the game. It's either baseball or nerf guns around here. Alyssa has been busy with dance as usual and just finished her track season. She did an awesome job at her meet a few weeks ago when Marty and I took the boys to go watch. I don't mean to brag, actually yes I am...but these kids possess some pretty amazing talent. 
We've been going to Des Moines quite alot the last few months. Sometimes weekly. Since Brody's surgery, he has to get routine x-rays, CT scans, and cast changes as he's healing, which is a slow process. This week we go back up for what we're hoping is the last cast removal, and then go into a splint that he would have to wear for an extended period of time. We're getting burnt out of the trips and he's tired of the casts, so he's ready for it to be over. I've been in the process of having my ears checked out and tested again to get some new and better hearing aids, so we've added a few more trips up for that, plus a couple trips for Sam to see the neurologist to have his head checked out since it measures too big, although his development is fine, just to be on the safe side. He also had to take a trip for hearing test to rule out any hereditary hearing loss. I will be very happy once on our long trips to Des Moines comes to an end.
Gradey just celebrated his 9th birthday with a nerf war party that turned out pretty good (I would consider it Pinterest worthy. *pats self on back*) and he had several friends come. They all showed up in camo and we gave them camo head bands, face paint and their own dog tags. They all looked pretty badass. After setting up the war zone, I didn't have the ambition to take it back down until the following week, so the kids and all their neighborhood friends took advantage of that while they could. The amount of nerf bullets in the yard during cleanup was unreal. I'm getting ready to start planning Sam's first birthday party for next month (.....Like, I can't even believe this is here already and I'm probably most likely going to cry that day). The last few years we've made the tradition of having a get together at our house for the Fourth of July, and since his birthday is the 10th, we will make it one party until he's old enough to want something else. I mean, who doesn't want a fireworks show at their birthday party?! And bubbles....he has to have bubbles. 
Since my last post, Brody got his drivers permit and Alyssa will will get hers this fall. A few nights ago Brody also had his 8th Grade Graduation and is heading into Highschool.......how can this be happening already?!........I'm just going to go cry now. 
After months of what feels like "go go go", it is the perfect time for Marty and I to take a much needed break, since we haven't had one since....ever. Next week we are taking a very much needed, quiet weekend to ourselves, spending most of our time fishing, which we both love. I am going to sleep through the night....for first time in over a year. The level of excitement for this is beyond anything I've ever felt before.

Until next time... ♥ 

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