Closing Time by Joe Queenan

Closing Time is a memoir that reads like a novel of a tough childhood, growing up with an alcoholic father who beat his children (often and hard), who could not hold on to a job, and who made a number of questionable decisions, some told hilariously like the time he decided to “drive” his delivery truck after hurting his hands so that his young son had to steer for him, a rare opportunity for father-son bonding, as it turns out.

The book could be bleak but, as the author says, his father did not wreck his life, he merely wrecked his childhood. So he is able to appreciate rich people’s houses, because they are beautiful even if he has no hope to live in them. He can deride the inaneness of the food bank’s offerings  of artichoke hearts to his family without ranting about the reasons why they needed the help. He tells funny stories about the year he spent in a seminary at age 14, when he thought priesthood would be his future and while the Catholic church was going through the difficult transition of Vatican II. And most notably he talks about the various people, mostly men, who helped him along the way with jobs, protection against his father, and glimpses of the life he could have if he used his considerable intelligence to get an education, which he did.

A very inspiring book without self-pity.

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