“The Tender Bar,” tops my list of favorite memoirs, not only because of the voice and emotional pull of the story, but for how it inspired me to think more creatively about character description in my own writing.
J.R. Moehringer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, wrote The Tender Bar about growing up without a father but with the guidance of his Uncle Charlie and a group of other men at their neighborhood bar who filled in as father figures.
Here’s how Moehringer uses cultural icons to describe Joey D, one of the men from the bar:
“…a giant with a tuft of gingery hair atop his spongy orange head, and features glued to the head at odd angles. He seemed to be made of spare parts from different Muppets, like a Sesame Street Frankenstein — head of Grover, face of Oscar, thorax of Big Bird.”
Moehringer goes on to write: “Though hulking and slouch-shouldered, Joey D had the manic energy of a small man. He speed walked, fluttered his hands, spoke in word spasms that left him winded. Like hay fever sneezes, whole sentences exploded from his mouth in one burst: Ocean’sgoingtoberoughtoday!” Read more