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The Pint Man: A Novel by Steve Rushin

The Pint Man: A Novel

by Steve Rushin

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  ewillse | Mar 23, 2014 |
  PatienceFortitude | Mar 6, 2014 |
  PatienceFortitude | Mar 6, 2014 |
  PatienceFortitude | Mar 6, 2014 |
I have been a big Steve Rushin fan ever since I discovered his Air and Space column in Sports Illustrated. I became an even bigger fan when I found out that the short schlubby guy was able to talk to talk the statuesque Rebecca Lobo to marry him. That was when i knew his glibness went beyond just clever,

In this, his first book, Rushin employed his knowledge and passion for words and made words and language the centerpiece of his novel. The premise of the story does not sound promising. A story about an unemployed wordsmith, spending his substantial down time in his favorite bar, enjoying his Guinness and indulging in his word play games with the other denizens of the bar.

The story itself is rather thin and the characters were not all that well developed, except maybe for the main character: Roddy Poole and his love interest Mairead. Everyone else was dealt a short and compact history as well as the necessary accoutrements so that the story moved along at a pace that served the story.

The key to this book is what happens between the character development and the plot evolution: the space between the notes, the time between actions, the bassline of the tune. Rushin filled it up with ruminations and pontifications about words, logic, trivia, and anything else involving the English language. So much so that the conversations became the focus and the reason for reading. The structure of the conversations drew me back, time and again. The discussions of the random facts stand seductively on the pages, where as the usual centerpieces: the characters and the plot became the window dressing. It is a bravura performance of the usage of the English language while in an alcohol soaked environment.

I actually liked the book, a lot. The romance portion of the plot was sweet and vulnerable but the defining theme was a bit thin, but I didn't really care because the word, ah the words were so abundant, rich, and savory that I didn't much care about anything else. Well, actually I did care about the little romance. In the end Roddy Poole did end up getting his Rebecca Lobo. Just like in real life. ( )
  pw0327 | Dec 19, 2011 |
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For Rebecca, Siobhan, Maeve, and Thomas -
All the days and all the nights and all the years.
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To say that Rodney went there religiously was not just a figure of speech, for Boyle's resembled a church even at noon, when no one was yet kneeling in the Gents, asking God for His mercy.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385529929, Hardcover)

Steve Rushin on New York Irish Bars

I met my wife in an Irish bar in New York: The Dublin House, on West 79th Street, with its great neon harp flashing above the door like a lighthouse beacon. We met before the smoking ban, when cigarettes were still compulsory and everyone left the place smelling like a smoked brisket and the harp sometimes seemed, as you walked out alone at 2 o'clock in the morning, to be blinking back tears.

At the time, I frequented another bar on the West Side--though "frequented" hardly does it justice. "Constanted" is more like it. The Emerald Inn, on Columbus Avenue, was a block from my fetid apartment and became, as it did for many in the neighborhood, the rec room or front parlor I didn't have.

There were other bars: You didn't want to be seen at the same place every night--a problem not shared by the protagonist in The Pint Man, Rodney Poole. Rodney is content to take up residence at Boyle's, the New York bar where much of the action (and conspicuous inaction) of The Pint Man takes place.

But I sometimes cheated on the Emerald, and went uptown to McAleer's, which had darts, or across town to Fiona's, for European Champions League soccer. There, my English buddy Simon and I would sit in hard-back chairs watching mid-week, mid-day matches that bled into prime time, and then into the 11 o'clock news, and then into the late night monologues. One night we chased a day of beer and TV with a bracing walk through Central Park, at midnight, in a downpour. When we reached the western shore of the park, we went to the nearest place we could find to get out of the rain: The Emerald, for a nightcap.

All of this is to say that I always wanted to own a convivial place that could shelter you from a storm, and reality, that was small, but with the sort of ancient, oversized, walk-in urinals they have at the Old Town Bar or McSorley's. (One of the minor ambitions of this novel was to do for urinal makers what Moby Dick did for whaling, and exalt an overlooked industry.)

In writing The Pint Man, I was faced with the elemental question of what to call my bar. Beer has long been in my blood, and not just in the literal sense. My ancestors were much practiced at naming bars. In 1946, my father's father, Jack Rushin, opened a joint on Market Street in San Francisco he called Jack's. But the neon sign he ordered came back misspelled. Faced with a costly correction, he installed it unaltered, which is why San Francisco had--under different ownership--a famous nightclub of the '50s called Fack's.

On my mother's side, I come from a long line of big-league baseball players, firefighters, and bar owners named Boyle. My grandfather Jimmie Boyle briefly played catcher for the New York Giants and his brother Buzz was an outfielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Their uncle, Jack Boyle, had a long career with the Phillies, then became nearly as renowned as the owner of a bar in downtown Cincinnati.

With The Pint Man then, I aspired to tell a story largely set in an Irish bar, with a lot of beer, and a little bit of baseball talk, and more urinals than were strictly necessary, and to call that bar Boyle's. Like its real-world antecedents, Boyle's is proof that sunlight isn't always required for life to flourish on this planet. --Steve Rushin

(Photo © Rebecca Lobo)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:34 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

For Rodney Poole, a friendly and unassuming lover of clever wordplay and television sports, Boyle's Irish Pub is a haven of good cheer, pleasantly pointless conversation, elaborate jokes, heated trivia contests, well-poured pints, and familiar faces. The pressures and demands of the outside world hold no sway there--the crowd at Boyle's is his family. But reality cannot be kept at bay forever, and now Rodney's best friend and partner in inertia is getting married and moving to Chicago. The prospect of being single, middle-aged, unemployed, and without his pal to while away the nights with is causing Rodney to rethink--or rather, create--his priorities.… (more)

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