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Patrons In a Bar
by A.J. Burress

Category: Fiction / General
0 pages; ISBN: 1591290503

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Paul Lappen


This is the story of Jake Tidwell, your average fresh-out-of-college type, living near Pittsburgh. Looking for more from life than the usual 9 to 5 job, Jake takes off for a year of traveling around America. He also figures that, as a would-be writer, he should have some experiences worth writing about.

Jake is one of those who likes his liquor and drugs, and has something of a gambling problem. After the obligatory stop in Las Vegas, he ends up in Phoenix to look up some lady friends from back home, known for throwing legendary parties. While he spends nights on their couch, he is forced to get a job. He becomes a supervisor for a group of mall kiosks that encourage people to enter a contest for a free weekend at a hotel in Mexico. Actually, it is little more than a telemarketing scam. After a few months, Jake again gets the urge to hit the open road and heads north toward Portland, Oregon.

Hiking on Mt. Hood, Jake has an epiphany. Sitting down to read Walden by Henry David Thoreau, Jake has the realization that Thoreau wrote the book for Jake, at that moment. If Jake didn’t have to get back home for the marriage of Paul, his best friend, the thought of staying in Portland was mighty tempting. The bride-to-bride doesn’t like her fiance’s friends, including Jake, but the guys are going to celebrate, anyway. Driving to pick up a friend in town, to bring him back to the party, Jake is arrested for DUI. Since the arraignment isn’t for several weeks, Jake gets in his car and heads for Baltimore.

He gets a job at a local restaurant, and is able to sleep at a local youth hostel for free, due to a loophole in their system. After the charges are dropped back home, Jake heads for Key West. His fellow employees at a local restaurant are from several different countries. Almost none of them speak English, but they all manage to understand each other. Key West is a place that turns into one big party at night. The cocaine and alcohol flow like water. Jake can hold his own as a partier, but staying up all night, every night, begins to take its toll. Part of the reason for the journey is to sort out his feelings toward Jane, his girlfriend, who is willing to wait for him.

This is much more than just a drunken, drug-filled chronicle of one person’s journey around America. Jake sees the best and worst in people, in unexpected places. This story is full of heart and soul and intelligence. It is well worth reading.



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