Friday Fiction: A Toast to the Fictional Bar by Alex Snider

Whew, summer, amirite? About what you ask? About all the patio time, the money spent and the amount of booze consumed! All for the greater good (i.e. super fun hangouts and, in my case, a reprieve from the volcanic heat of my apartment) of course but shit yo, I've been imbibing a lot lately. I'm drinking right now actually! On a patio! Fun times had by all (except it's just me. But I'm expecting. More people! Haha).

Incidently, in addition to drinking a lot, we've been listening to the 90's station at work lately which means I hear the Verve Pipe's Closing Time way more than I ever thought I would in 2011. Seriously, if I were to go back in time and ask my high school self if I thought I'd ever hear that song again outside of the inevitable 90's themed parties, high school me (I have no idea how old I actually was when it came out but I feel like I was probably in high school) would have said "no". And then I'd be like what a fucking waste of a time machine, how perfect, how fucking "Alex" of me! And then I'd go back to that burger place across from my high school and eat like five chili burgers to try and numb the sting of self-loathing. I probably wouldn't even give myself life-advice or anything useful. Fuck.

Long story short (if you can call that a story which I wouldn't despite the journey and the misery; I'll rework it and throw in a gun to be used in the mysterious third act) I've decided, based on the influence of a cloying 90's song and my own social drinking habits, to dedicate this Friday Fiction to my favourite fictional bars:

A Fan's Notes by Frederick Exley -- Frederick Exley the character spends A LOT of time in bars in A Fan's Notes. More time in mental institutions but still a lot of time in bars. He drinks, laments, has heart/panic attacks... You know the usual stuff! This book is a tragedy in that it should be up there in the American canon alongside Hemingway and Fitzgerald but instead has been all but forgotten. He's so bitingly funny and sardonic that it masks the deep frailty and sensitivity of his story: struggles with mental illness, alcoholism and what is expected of him in the American Dream. (Personal recommendation time: Hey Wes, *waves* read this!)

Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry -- You again?!! Geoffrey Fermin is an alcoholic so he spends a large chunk of the novel in bars which I imagine to all be like the Coaster's song and run by cats named Joe.

Death in the Andes by Mario Vargas Llosa -- In this town in the mountains in Peru people keep disappearing and so two Civil Guards are called in to investigate. Is it guerrilla fighters? Is it something more mythological? Who knows! (Well, I do and you will too if you read the book! ) But, all the creepy, non-police-trusting townspeople gather in the one bar in the town. Bars really provide a sense of community, you know?

Ghosted by Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall -- The bar in question here is in the underground gambling den that has a panic room hidden behind a fish tank and you need a password to get in. I feel like Wee Bey (holy sheet! I just googled Wee Bey to make sure I spelt his name right and Wee Bey gif also came up! I'm so excited to see what it is! I hope it's him taking off his shirt or something! I love Wee Bey) would feel so at home at this bar.

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates -- Oh wow, Richard Yates is a great writer! Great because despite being super depressing, I didn't want to open a vein after finishing Revolutionary Road! Usually I like my super depressing novels to be cut with a wide swath of humour to diffuse the angst (see A Fan's Notes) but RR did not deliver on that front. Oh, and there's a bar scene where they're all drinking and dancing and having passive aggressive fun! Who hasn't been there, amirite?!

Leviathan by Paul Auster -- The bar in this one doesn't have a starring role, it's only mentioned at one point but it's an important one being where the main characters met and all. It sounds really cozy and nice, too, just the kind of bar where you would meet a lifelong friend. Who will eventually blow himself up on the side of the road.

Anyway, there's probably tonnes that I'm missing but I'm not at my sharpest (see above: drinking on patio) and my friends are here now so I'm out. Happy, happy, happy hour Friday! Long live Fridays!

Alex Snider is a Toronto-based writer, a Contributing Editor for the Little Red Umbrella and the co-creator of the Once Again, To Zelda blog, which is where a version of this post originally appeared. You can read the rest of her posts here.


Unknown said...

You need a high pun tolerance to enjoy them, but the Callahan's Cross-Time Saloon series by Spider Robinson is great for some light humour / sci-fi reading.

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