Sunday, July 3, 2022

Seven memorable bartenders in fiction

Wesley Straton is a writer and bartender based in Brooklyn. She writes fiction about found families, alienation, and how where we live shapes who we are. She studied fiction at Brooklyn College, where she received the Himan Brown Creative Writing Award and served as an editor for the Brooklyn Review. Her fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train and has been shortlisted for the Disquiet Literary Prize, and she has written about international bar culture for Roads & Kingdoms, GQ, and Difford’s Guide. The Bartender’s Cure is her debut novel.

At Electric Lit Straton tagged seven "compelling, magnetic bar personalities" in literature, including:
Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez

Olga Dies Dreaming follows Olga, an accomplished wedding planner, and her politician brother Prieto, whose mostly comfortable lives are upended by the landfall of Hurricane Maria and the sudden reappearance of their radical mother. It’s a story about family and community, loss and ambition, and it manages to
contain both a withering critique of the United States treatment of Puerto Rico and a beautiful love story—part of which takes place at a fantastic bar.

Sylvia’s Social Club is an unassuming, wood-paneled dive bar in a rare undeveloped pocket of Williamsburg. Olga goes there on a date with her new love interest, Matteo, and the two of them drink golden rum and play each other songs on the old jukebox. It’s a sweet scene, and in it we meet Sylvia herself, the beautiful and charming sixty-something Puerto Rican woman who gets Matteo the rum he likes and holds the line against the developers looking to buy her out. Sylvia doesn’t get a ton of space on the page, but she sparkles—which is sort of the whole bartender job.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue