Unfinished Book: "The Tabernacle Bar" by Susan Palmer


I received this novel in a big box of Mormon books from my wife's brother's wife's brother as he sloughed off the final remnants of his Mormon past. I don't know why I chose this one to start with. The box was filled with much more exciting volumes. But this one was slender and engaging and I slipped into it rather quickly.

Once I slipped out, however, I found it difficult to return.

Utah: The lapsed Mormon granddaughter inherits all her staunchly Mormon grandfather's property and takes out a mortgage on it to buy the local bar of the title. She sleeps with a couple dudes and an escaped hippie girl falls in love with her brother and this and that. The town is a sort of fictionalized Logan and, you know, everything about the book is fine. But just fine. It has that sort of snide this is what Mormons are really like tone we've grown tired of from too much use by too many exMos. In other words, as much as I liked the first half of the book, I find it impossible to believe that the second half will provide me with anything more.

Perhaps that is cynical or unkind, but---remember!---according to Tim Parks!---it's okay not to finish books.

I feel like this book and I are close enough to still hang out together on Facebook.

But I might wait for it to friend me first.


  1. I have an obsessive need to finish books... the only one I think I haven't finished (other than a couple of review copies people asked me to read this year... yeah...) are by Samuel Beckett.

  2. .

    It's been hard for me to do this. But it's kind of freeing.

    Though perhaps not as much as I might like.

  3. I read this when it came out, and enjoyed her writing style. But in the end it did not do much for me. I was never interested enough in it to write the AML-list review I owed for it. I've never had the nerve to ask Jeff Needle for another free review book ever since.

    But I did chose her short story "Breakthrough" for the 2002 AML short story award.

  4. .

    That's a long time, Andrew. Like: a really long time.