I received a promotional copy through the First Reads program.
I liked it. A well-deserved 4 stars, with no rounding up needed.
53 writers means a variety of writing styles and perspectives. 53 bars means a variety of bars - different vibes, different parts of the world, etc. There's a sense of loss running throughout the book - a lot of the bars have closed, and a lot of the writers are reminiscing about a time that is over and they can't return to it. On a happier note, the writers make clear how important camaraderie can be, how much better people are when banding together. Regardless of what section (of the book) the bars are in, it's obvious time and time again that those bars are meaningful to the writers because of the people there.
I was disappointed that I had only read one book by these authors: The Year of Silence
, by Madison Smartt Bell. I had heard of Scott Raab, Alissa Nutting, Malachy McCourt, and of course Duff McKagan. But I consider the latter more a musician who writes than a writer. A few of the writers chose bars they have been to only once or twice, so I wouldn't consider those bars favorites.
Anyway, here are a few selections that stood out to me:
The Patterson House (Nashville) - Adam Ross: The most interesting of the upscale establishments.
Southern Exposure (Antarctica) - Hunter Slaton
The Otintaii Bar (Tarawa, Kiribati) - J. Maarten Troost
Both of those are location-driven.
Eddie's Club (Missoula, Montana) - Kevin Canty
Fireside Bowl (Chicago) - Joe Meno
Slim's Last Chance Saloon (Seattle) - Duff McKagan
Both of those are notable for the music.
Leila's Peugeot (Tehran) - Azadeh Moaveni: Yes. It's a car.
La Cabanita (Glendale, California) - Heather Havrilesky: Drinking with children.
Raccoon's (Valrico, Florida) - Alissa Nutting