Through the Barman’s Eyes- Sam’s Place by Bob Mustin


The blurb reads,

Step inside Sam’s and you can play a game of eight ball, nurse a beer, or get to know a wayward preacher, a reformed hooker, an Iraq vet amputee – or Sam himself. You may watch a baby being born, see a deadly knife fight, or simply hear tall tales. But there’s always a rough-hewn truth within the lies, and Sam’s there to manage everything from birth to death with a righteous cant. All things considered, it isn’t a bad world. Sam’s Place is a collection of interwoven short stories that revolve around a local watering hole in the Alabama town of Striven. Pull up a chair and get to know the locals in this powerful and entertaining world that is Sam’s Place

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I’m so glad I decided to read and review this book. Being the really late blogger that I am, it took me too long to dig this book up from my mail and read it. By then, I’d missed the deadline for it on the Making Connections group anyway.

So, I read this book as a welcome break when I was studying for my Chartered Accountancy Final exams (CPA equivalent for everyone!) and it was perfect. I am beginning to realise how perfect short stories are. They are concise and make for good reading. There is never the risk of wondering where the thread goes or trying to remember how any particular character acts.

So this book traces the chronicles of Sam, an Iraq war amputee, who has set up his bar in small town Alabama. The bar provides much needed respite to weary travellers and has quirky regulars who play pool there.

The stories talk about the lives of these people, and somehow, even though the stories are short, you get sucked into them. You wonder how life really is, in a small town where everyone knows everything about the other person, and how running an establishment in such a place is actually like. Also, Sam is a very likeable character. He is gruff, steady and runs his establishment inspite of difficulties. Not much is initially revealed about Sam’s past and what he did before the war. You have to read through the book for that, and it is a delight to do so.

Quirky characters include the village dunce who has played pool all his life, and a feisty lady who plays an important part in the stories to come. The stories don’t only include happenings of people in and around Sam’s life. We learn about Sam’s heartbreaks and also how he finds redemption. And love.

As I publish this on Valentines Day, I feel glad for having read the book because while reading it, I realised that we can really expect true love to come to us, sometime or the other. You never know who you interact with can turn out to be your soulmate. Every person is stardust, we just need to find the stardust we feel most comfortable with.

This book was a journey. I could see Sam mature into a relaxed and composed man after finding his true love and that was a brilliant transformation.

The special part is that the writer has an easy going way, it pulls you in a stream and gives you a permanent chair in Sam’s place. You see those characters come and go. You see the visitors and the regulars. You experience the fights and the action. You see the police and also an odd thug. That is the most redeeming part of this book. It gives you a different perspective. Isn’t that why we read in the first place?

My Rating: 4/5

4star

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