Barroom Transcripts Featuring Tony Straub
by Rich Stewart
This book is literally full of barroom transcripts. Pennsylvania writer Rich Stewart hung out in bars with Lancaster local Tony Straub and recorded Straub's stories, then typed them up for this book. Stewart adds no editorial or background of his own. He leaves Straub to paint the whole picture himself. And the picture Straub paints is one of hard drinking and harsh realities. Straub tells stories of a series of run-ins with the law, live-ins with hookers, of fight and fires, broken hearts and hospital stays.
Straub's stories read like Bukowski without the self-reflection or the romance, and in that way, the stories demonstrate, more than anything, one man's search for love and simple kindness in a cruel world. Reading Barroom Transcripts makes you simultaneously wish you could have Straub's adventures and happy that you don't have to live through his pain. Most of the stories come across as somewhat far-fetched, but knowing what years in bars have led me to know, most of the stories come across as completely believable. It's an interesting book. More often than not, Straub's stories made me laugh in that melancholy way that I laugh when I'm listening to some unemployed sap tell me a joke in a dive bar at noon on a Wednesday.
Stewart's decision to simply transcribe these stories works for me, also. By keeping his authorial intrusion to simply titling stories, Stewart allows us to see life at it's most raw and profound.
This book is an independent effort. You won't find it in stores, but you can order it directly from Stewart at http://www.craphousepress.com.