Book Review: The Clancys of Queens

Posted by Katrina Roets at 8:30 AM

Friday, March 24, 2017

Fifth-generation New Yorker, third-generation bartender, and first-time author Tara Clancy was raised in three wildly divergent homes: a converted boat shed in working class Queens, a geriatric commune of feisty, Brooklyn-born Italians, and a sprawling Hamptons estate she visited every other weekend. This childhood triptych comes to life in The Clancys of Queens, an electric, one-of-a-kind memoir.  

From scheming and gambling with her force-of-nature grandmother, to brawling with eleven-year-old girls on the concrete recess battle yard of MS 172, to hours lounging on Adirondack chairs beside an immaculate croquet lawn, to holding court beside Joey O’Dirt, Goiter Eddy, and Roger the Dodger at her Dad’s local bar, Tara leapfrogs across these varied spheres, delivering stories from each world with originality, grit, and outrageous humor.

But The Clancys of Queens is not merely an authentic coming-of-age tale or a rowdy barstool biography. Chock-full of characters who escape the popular imaginings of this city, it offers a bold portrait of real people, people whose stories are largely absent from our shelves. Most crucially, it captures—in inimitable prose—the rarely-heard voices of New York’s working-class women.

With a light touch but a hard hit, The Clancys of Queens blends savvy and wit to take us on an unforgettable strata-hopping adventure.
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 I finished this book over a week ago and I've been trying to decide how to write this review.  I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this book up. I love memoirs but traditionally, I choose ones by people that I actually know. In this case, I have and had no idea who Tara Clancy was, though I did get to know her throughout her book. In fact, I got to know quite a few interesting characters. When the book opened up, I smiled at her memories of her grandparents and what life was like when she was with them. As the book progressed though, I found myself smiling less as the language picked up and some of the stories seemed too out there to be true. Are they true? I don't know. I mean, I have stories that people look at me and say there's no way that happened, but they did. Then, the book abruptly ended and it didn't feel as if there were any closure to it. If I had to rate this book (and I kinda do), I'd give it at 3 out of 5. It's not a bad read, but I feel as if I may not have been the right audience for it.

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I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own.
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