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The Last Fine Time

By turns, an elegy, a celebration, and a social history, The Last Fine Time is a tour de force of lyrical style. Verlyn Klinkenborg chronicles the life of a family-owned restaurant in Buffalo, New York, from its days as a prewar Polish tavern to its reincarnation as George & Eddie’s, a swank nightspot serving highballs and French-fried shrimp to a generation of optimistic and prosperous Americans. In the inevitable dimming of the neon sign outside the restaurant, we see both the passing of an old world way of life and the end to the postwar exuberance that was Eddie Wenzek’s "last fine time."

224 pages | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 1991

Literature and Literary Criticism: American and Canadian Literature

Sociology: Urban and Rural Sociology


"The author evokes the old ways with such darting humor and restless trope-making that the moss of nostalgia has no chance to grow on his sentence structure."

Washington Post

"Brings an era to life. . . . All at once, a small, bygone portion of America becomes so real that we seem to be not so much reading about it as drawing it forth from our own memories."

Anne Tyler | Boston Globe

"Wittily lyrical. . . . The shining prose of The Last Fine Time radiates both in space and in time."

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt | New York Times

"Klinkenborg understands the power of images and of signs. His more objective research in the city library is impeccable and unobtrusive, and there are hints almost of Faulkner in his handling of a community’s origins and growth. . . . It is an astonishing achievement, one of the finest memoirs of recent years."

New Statesman

"[A] lovingly poetic and gitty portrait of his father-in-law’s bar just outside Buffalo, before its death by thoroughway and sprawl."

Reamy Jansen | Bloomsbury Review

“The Wenzeks’ history joins what is finally the great American story, that of how the old world came to, and changed, the new. It’s a worthy subject for a writer of Klinkenborg’s talent, and he does it justice.”

Robert Wilson | USA Today

“[Klinkenborg] has wrapped a profound social history around, of all things, a family-owned taproom in Buffalo, NY. Researching both the city and the family . . . Klinkenborg sensitively addresses the shifts in consciousness with passing generations. Men and women born during the baby-boom years will recognize their own parents in this poignant social portrait.”

Joseph F. Keppler | Seattle Times

Table of Contents

An Innocent Population
The Falls

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