THE LAST FINE TIME by Verlyn Klinkenborg


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The unremarkable history of a tavern in Buffalo, N.Y., masquerading as parable. Klinkenborg (Creative Writing/Harvard) has published in Esquire, The New Yorker, etc. In the late 1940's, Buffalo was a thriving city--not as grand as before the Depression, when the Erie Canal promised lifelong commerce with the West and Buffalo citizens were calling their town the next Venice--but full of spunk and vigor nonetheless. George and Eddie's bar on Buffalo's Polish east side typified the town's (and, implies the author, the country's) modern postwar spirit--aglow with the good life, its proprietors eager to cash in on the country's new sophistication and wealth. Founded during Prohibition by Polish immigrant Thomas Wensek and his stolid, hard-working wife, and passed on to their son Eddie and son-in-law George, the tavern was soon transformed into a Buffalo hot spot, sporting a jazzy neon sign and interior renovation. But soon the neighborhood Poles began moving to the suburbs, and as a new wave of immigrants--southern blacks--moved in, George and Eddie's establishment began its slide toward eradication. A True American Story; but Klinkenborg's weakness for stereotypic period tableaus (Eddie the bartender, with his white apron and neatly combed hair, presiding over his drinking establishment) and literary conceits ("Nineteen forty-seven is a man in a brown hat and a good brown suit with the back of one pantleg caught in his sock") fail to bring his scenarios to life. An unengaging tale.

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 1990
ISBN: 394-57195-9
Publisher: Knopf
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