Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Last Fine Time

The time is 1947 and the setting is 722 Sycamore Avenue in Buffalo NY. From there the author takes us back in time and also shows a glimpse of what was to come (I'm not quite finished reading it). While George & Eddie's bar is the center of the universe, the author brings in historical context of the city, the nation, and the world at large. It was shortly after WWII after all.

It's not about life in a bar. It's about the people that exist in this space in time. There is no conversation. Reading The Last Fine Time by Verlyn Klinkenborg is like experiencing time through a kaleidoscope. From one scene to the next the picture comes into focus and then whirls away, to be replaced with another. Detailed pictures formed from words.

A blurb on the back cover by Anne Tyler of the Boston Globe says it all:
"Brings an era to life...All at once, a small, bygone portion of America becomes so real that we seem to be not so much reading about it as drawing it forth from our own memories."
One need not be Polish or have any special special affinity for the east side of Buffalo in the glory days to thoroughly enjoy this book. It's so real that I even had a dream about anonymous people that are glimpsed throughout the book, and I never ever dream about the books I'm reading.

Marvelous book! HT to Joe Buckley of In Other Words for suggesting that I move this up on my to-read list. Thanks!

1 comment:

joebuckley said...

Why, thanks, Becky!

I gave this book to my dad about 10 years ago. Now, he was most definitely there, the east side of the city, at that time as a young man. Some of the names mentioned in the book sounded familiar to me (we lived off of Dingins, and S. Ogden, which were named in the book), but dad knew these people. Mom said that she's never seen him react that way to a book.

"Snow begins as a rumor in Buffalo." It certainly does.