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Publisher's Summary

J.R. Moehringer grew up captivated by a voice. It was the voice of his father, a New York City disc jockey who vanished before J.R. spoke his first word. Sitting on the stoop, pressing an ear to the radio, J.R. would strain to hear in that plumy baritone the secrets of masculinity and identity. Though J.R.'s mother was his world, his rock, he craved something more, something faintly and hauntingly audible only in The Voice.

At eight years old, suddenly unable to find The Voice on the radio, J.R. turned in desperation to the bar on the corner, where he found a rousing chorus of new voices. Cops, bookies, soldiers, and stumblebums, all sorts of men gathered in the bar to tell their stories and forget their cares. The alphas along the bar, including J.R.'s uncle Charlie, a Humphrey Bogart look-alike; Colt, a Yogi Bear sound-alike and Joey D, a soft-hearted brawler, took J.R. to the beach, to ballgames, and ultimately into their circle. They taught J.R., tended him, and provided a kind of fatherhood-by-committee.

Torn between the stirring example of his mother and the lurid romance of the bar, J.R. tried to forge a self somewhere in the center. But when it was time for J.R. to leave home, the bar became an increasingly seductive sanctuary, a place to return and regroup during his picaresque journeys. Time and again, the bar offered shelter from failure, rejection, heartbreak, and eventually from reality.

In the grand tradition of landmark memoirs, The Tender Bar is suspenseful, wrenching, and achingly funny. A classic American story of self-invention and escape, of the fierce love between a single mother and an only son, it's also a moving portrait of one boy's struggle to become a man, and an unforgettable depiction of how men remain, at heart, lost boys.

©2005 J.R. Moehringer (P)2005 Hyperion

Critic Reviews

  • 2005 Audie Award Winner, Narration by the Author
  • 2005 Audie Award Nominee, Biography/Memoir

"Funny, honest, and insightful." (Booklist) "[Moehringer's] the best memoirist of his kind since Mary Karr wrote The Liars' Club." (The New York Times) "In his gimlet-eyed memoir, The Tender Bar, J.R. Moehringer lovingly and affectingly toasts a boyhood spent on a barstool." (Vanity Fair) "The Tender Bar will make you thirsty for that life: its camaraderie, its hilarity, its seductive, dangerous wisdom." (Richard Russo)

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  • Overall
  • Jim E
  • San Jose, CA, USA
  • 09-15-05

A Good Deal and a Good Deal More

"The Tender Bar" is that most elusive item today, a wonderful tale lovingly told. For any guy who has been lost and found this story connects on levels seldom touched today. Alternately plaintive and hard-boiled the story never slows or lessens its grip on us. It is real writing by a real writer. JR as the narrator only makes the listening that much richer carrying the words lovingly on his tongue. This is a 'must have.'

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sandra
  • Saint Augustine, FL, United States
  • 11-04-05

This was outstanding, a treasure.

My only complaint was that it was abridged. One has to wonder about what was omitted. I will probably read the unabridged book, having enjoyed this listen very much.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


This is an incredible story of stuggle and perseverance; from a life of poverty, questionable family members and a bar room full of men to call friends, to incredible success. But it wasn't in spite of those hurdles that he succeeded, it seems that it bas because of them. He writes honestly and with emotion of his failures as well as his achievements. There are plenty of lessons you could take away from this book to be sure, but also, its just a really wonderful, sad, funny, entertaining story about a boy coming of age. Definitely I would recommend.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The Tender Bar

A wonderfully insightful book about one boy's navigation towards adulthood! Listened while driving and the normally exhausting 6 hours passed very pleasantly!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I loved this book.

Would you consider the audio edition of The Tender Bar to be better than the print version?

Not necessarily

What did you like best about this story?

It was so real and true. I loved the characters.

What does J.R. Moehringer bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

It was as if he was actually telling me his story while I was driving to work each day.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I looked forward to hearing it on my 40 minute drive to work

Any additional comments?

I am looking forward to reading Sutton.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Thomas
  • Norfolk, VA, USA
  • 04-15-10

Like having a beer with an old friend

This book was just a joy to listen to. We listened while we were painting our house, and it was like listening to a friend tell us a story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Why abridged?

The book is good, the abridged version is not. The story has the potential for so many characters and their stories are truncated.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

beautifully crafted.

JR has clearly finally "gotten in". This is a beautiful piece that manages to show-case his tremendous skill at crafting a story (albeit true) while sounding like he is just speaking with you (probably helps that he is reading it). In league with "the kite runner", this memoir reaches out and touches your heart without leaving the feeling that you have been forced into an experience like a puppet! I was truly impressed by the author's ability to present very complex characters without conveying any animosity. I truly enjoyed this book!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Poignant and compelling

An incredibly poignant and naked memoir that touched me deeply.... I recommend highly for anyone who lives great story telling, great character narratives, and sap-free introspection.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Warm, beautiful story of becoming a man

I am very rigid about books I read for pleasure. I believe life is too short to reread a book. Until this. I read it three years ago and loved it. When I saw that the author read it himself, I had to hear him say his words aloud. It was even better than the print version. After finishing, I let it linger in my ears like a fine Merlot on the tongue, I sampled some other books, including Moehringer's Sutton for my next listen. Then I opened up the library and decided to listen again right away. Stunning writing, and his reading lets you peer even deeper. If I could give it 10 stars, I would.