The Tender Bar. A Memoir, J.R. Moehringer

The Tender Bar. A Memoir, J.R. Moehringer, Hachette Books, 2006

Versiunea în limba română: Dulcele Bar. Memorii, Editura Publica, Colecția Narator, traducere de Paul Slayer Grigoriu

The Tender Bar / Dulcele bar a lui Moehringer era una dintre cărțile acelea pe care îmi doream mereu să le citesc, dar o amânam pentru un moment tihnit, în care să pot s-o savurez așa cum credeam eu că se cuvenea. O carte pe care toată lumea o lăuda și mă îndemna să o caut. Un pom lăudat la care m-am dus cu coșul plin de speranțe, mai ales după ce citisem autobiografia lui Andre Agassi, Open, o mare revelație pentru mine și una dintre cărțile de 5 stele de anul trecut, la care Moehringer contribuise (substanțial, cred).

Mi-am făcut, în sfârșit, timp pentru ea în vacanța dintre ani, și am am citit-o cu plăcere, aproape fără pauze, devorând povestea copilăriei, adolescenței și tinereții autorului, cu inerentele probleme familiale, sentimentale și profesionale, toate având în centrul lor, ca etern punct de sprijin și școală a vieții, BARUL. M-am amuzat de limbajul unchiului Charlie, adoptat de copilul J.R., m-am înduioșat la poveștile familiei și obișnuiților barului, m-am enervat pe tânărul J.R. că prea își irosea timpul și talentul, și, în toate căutările lui, i-am admirat talentul de scriitor.

Totuși, tocmai din cauza așteptărilor despre care vă spuneam la început, am avut tot timpul senzația că trebuie să fie ceva mai mult de atât, ceva care să mă impresioneze până la lacrimi, să mă facă să exclam Wow!, să rând în hohote, să reiau fragmente doar pentru frumusețea lor. A fost nevoie să treacă vreo două luni ca lucrurile să se mai așeze, să se sedimenteze și să-mi dau seama că atmosfera și personajele încă îmi sunt proaspete în minte, că încă îmi place să recitesc anumite pasaje, că în paginile astea e nu numai o poveste de viață, cu bune și cu rele, ci talent autentic de povestitor și o experiență de lectură de neratat. Acum pot să spun cu convingere că The Tender Bar / Dulcele bar e o carte de memorii pe care mă bucur că am citit-o și pe care o recomand sincer.

Mai jos, câteva citate preferate:

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. We went there after weddings and funerals, for something to settle our nerves, and always for a shot of courage just before. We went there when we didn’t know what we needed, hoping someone might tell us. We went there when looking for love, or sex, or trouble, or for someone who had gone missing, because sooner or later everyone turned up there. Most of all we went there when we needed to be found.

*

Sometimes I felt so alone that I wished there were a bigger, longer word for alone.

*

Like nothing else, words organized my world, put order to chaos, divided things neatly into black and white. Words even helped me organize my parents. My mother was the printed word—tangible, present, real—while my father was the spoken word—invisible, ephemeral, instantly part of memory. There was something comforting about this rigid symmetry.

*

They taught me to say the word “fuck,” gave me this word as if it were a pocketknife or a good suit of clothes, something every boy should have. They showed me the many ways “fuck” could release anger, scare off enemies, rally allies, make people laugh in spite of themselves. They taught me to pronounce it forcefully, gutturally, even gracefully, to get my money’s worth from the word. Why inquire meekly what’s going on, they said, when you can demand, “What the fuck?” They demonstrated the many verbal recipes in which “fuck” was the main ingredient. A burger at Gilgo, for instance, was twice as tasty when it was a “Gilgo fucking burger.”

*

“You must do everything that frightens you, JR. Everything. I’m not talking about risking your life, but everything else. Think about fear, decide right now how you’re going to deal with fear, because fear is going to be the great issue of your life, I promise you. Fear will be the fuel for all your success, and the root cause of all your failures, and the underlying dilemma in every story you tell yourself about yourself. And the only chance you’ll have against fear? Follow it. Steer by it. Don’t think of fear as the villain. Think of fear as your guide, your pathfinder.”

*

My mother is the printed word, my father is the spoken word, Sheryl is the slurred word.

*

I wanted to explain that books didn’t have the same explicit purpose as tools, that there wasn’t a clear difference between when books were in use and when they weren’t. I took pleasure from their presence, enjoyed seeing them lined up on my shelves and floors. They were the only redeeming feature of my squalid apartment. My books kept me company, cheered me up. Furthermore, because every book I’d owned as a boy was mildewed from the basement or missing its front cover, I was fussy about my books. I didn’t write in the margins or dog-ear the pages, and I never loaned them, especially not the first editions given to me by the editors of the Times Book Review when I did my little author interviews. But I couldn’t say any of this to Bob the Cop because it would have sounded ungenerous, so I told him that he was welcome to stop by the next day and help himself to whatever books I wasn’t using.

*

Sinatra’s voice, I said, is the voice most men hear in their heads. It’s the paradigm of maleness. It has the power men strive for, and the confidence. And yet when Sinatra is hurt, busted up, his voice changes. Not that the confidence goes away, but just beneath the confidence is a strain of insecurity, and you hear the two impulses warring for his soul, you hear all that confidence and insecurity in every note, because Sinatra lets you hear, lays himself bare, which men so seldom do.

*

I saw that we must lie to ourselves now and then, tell ourselves that we’re capable and strong, that life is good and hard work will be rewarded, and then we must try to make our lies come true. This is our work, our salvation, and this link between lying and trying was one of my mother’s many gifts to me, the truth that always lay just beneath her lies.

 

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