In the December 1 Booklist, now live on Booklist Online, I wrote a Back Page column about my favorite fictional bars. Space forced me to limit my choices to five: Victor’s in Chandler’s The Long Goodbye; Mac’s Place in Ross Thomas’ McCorkle and Padillo novels; Morrissey’s in Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder novels; Medicine Lodge in Ivan Doig’s The Bartender’s Tale; and, of course, that “ramsackle joint” in James Crumley’s The Last Good Kiss, where Abraham Trahearne and an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts “drank the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.” Five fine watering holes, to be sure, but I could have named many, many more. For example, how about the Kapowsin Tavern in Richard Hugo’s poem, “Death of the Kapowsin Tavern”? I sure would have enjoyed sipping a whiskey at the Kapowsin and listening to its “dusty jukebox cracking through // the cackle of a beered-up crone.” Too bad (a.) the bar is fictional, and (b.) it’s burned down (“I can’t ridge it back again from char. // Not one board left”).
But enough of my favorites. I want to hear about yours. Comment below and make the case for other bars in books that ought to be real.