Barroom Transcripts Featuring Tony Straub BOOK review [Rich Stewart/Tony Straub]

Book Reviews
Barroom Transcripts Featuring Tony Straub BOOK review [Rich Stewart/Tony Straub]
Aug 1, 2000, 05:14

BARROOM TRANSCRIPTS FEATURING TONY STRAUB by Rich Stewart and Tony Straub; Craphouse Press, 2000

If the bar you frequent can be described with the word “club,” then Barroom Transcripts will probably scare you out of your leather pants. This collection of brief stories chronicles the life of Tony Straub, a hard-drinking, hard-loving (when he's not too drunk), Vietnam Vet. With help from Rich Stewart, Straub's tales were recorded and compiled in various barrooms around Lancaster, PA. The transcribed bar conversations and autobiographical sketches force feed us raw strips of Straub's wild life of bar hopping, periodic homelessness, hospital stays, and prison vacations. It is virtually impossible and absolutely unnecessary to separate Straub's real life from his flashbacks and alcoholic memory. He performs fantastic feats of sex, like going down on a female bartender on a pool table in front of cheering customers, while in the next chapter he discusses mental illness or his view of a perfect relationship. With chapters like “Escape From Reality,” “A Guy Like Me,” and “I Don't Give a Fuck,” Barroom Transcripts adroitly captures Straub's life of professional, out-of-work drinking. A more literary interpretation? Straub is a severely impaired Denis Johnson beating the shit out of Richard Brautigan.

-Sommer Browning

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