I’m not a big fan of ‘bar’ stories – Larry Niven’s ‘Draco’s Tavern’ story series left me fairly cold back in the day. And Howard’s story aims to be amusing, which can also be the kiss of death to this curmudgeonly old bugger.
However, I realised quite quickly that the author’s sense of humour was very similar to mine. Very. And before much longer I realised that the story was so close to what I would write if I wrote a story of this type (and if I was any good at writing stories). The bartender protagonist is very much a man in my own mould – when facing a customer exclaiming his woe he ponders “I am considering giving him woe at cudgel-point for his disparaging of the establishment and promiscuous use of exclamations ..”
It transpires that Howard (not someone whose name I can recall coming across in short story terms, and I wouldn’t expect his novels to come across my radar) is British, and I did wonder whether the fact that the sanguine nature of British humour, and irony, don’t always travel well across the Atlantic might mean non-Brits might not appreciate the story. But Lois Tilton praises it in LocusOnline, and two reviewers in both liked it.
A strong narrative voice from the protagonist, in a story set in a bar against a backdrop of 20th century European history(ies).
More from this issue here.