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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (323 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Joe Queenan Narrator: Johnny Heller Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2009 ISBN: 9781400182169
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A deeply funny and affecting memoir about a great escape from a childhood of poverty

Joe Queenan’s acerbic riffs on movies, sports, books, politics, and many of the least forgivable phenomena of pop culture have made him one of the most popular humorists and commentators of our time. In Closing Time, Queenan turns his sights on a more serious and personal topic: his childhood in a Philadelphia housing project in the early 1960s. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Closing Time recounts Queenan’s Irish Catholic upbringing in a family dominated by his erratic father, a violent yet oddly charming emotional terrorist whose alcoholism fuels a limitless torrent of self-pity, railing, destruction, and late-night chats with the Lord Himself. With the help of a series of mentors and surrogate fathers, and armed with his own furious love of books and music, Joe begins the long flight away from the dismal confines of his neighborhood—with a brief misbegotten stop at a seminary—and into the wider world.

Queenan’s unforgettable account of the damage done to children by parents without futures and of the grace children find to move beyond these experiences will appeal to fans of Augusten Burroughs and Mary Karr and will take its place as an autobiography in the classic American tradition.

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Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Florence | 2/18/2014

    " I enjoyed every word of this bittersweet memoir. Plagued by a brutal, alcoholic father, and a childhood lived in humiliating povery, Queenan, the survivor, kept his spirit alive. If you are from Philadelphia, this book will bring back a lot of memories both good and bad. I learned that working class Olney was a hotbed of Nazi sympathy and many other salient facts. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joanne | 2/10/2014

    " Of the hundreds of memoirs I have read, this memoir is certainly one of the best. It is the very well-written, heartbreaking, and at times, uproariously funny account of Joe Queenan's childhood growing up in the poor and downtrodden neighborhood's of 1950's and 60's Philadelphia. The story centers around the author's extremely difficult relationship with his alcoholic and incredibly abusive father. Although the story of the alcoholic, abusive, constantly unemployed, and down-on-his-luck father has been told many times before, it is Queenan's gift for story telling and language that makes this book stand out. Queenan decides at an early age to escape the doldrums of Philly and the terror of his drunken father and sets about it in a most determined way by seeking out jobs, books, education, friends, and experiences that take him away from his miserable home life (including a stint in a theological school embracing a youthful flirtation with piousness and becoming a priest). The stories of the many characters he meets along the way are interesting and often laugh-out-loud funny. Along with the New York Time Book Review Notable Books of 2009, I highly recommend this book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jeanette Burchaski | 1/31/2014

    " I started reading this book a long time ago. I really thought it was going to be good. Unfortunately, Joe Queenan could not hold my interest. Last ...moreI started reading this book a long time ago. I really thought it was going to be good. Unfortunately, Joe Queenan could not hold my interest. Last night I finally sat down and forced -- yes forced -- myself to finish it. It's too bad because I think Joe Queenan's life could make for an interesting story. He just didn't do it justice.(less) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kbrew | 1/28/2014

    " Great memoir of an Irish American kid growing up in Philadelphia. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John | 1/24/2014

    " Like Frank McCourt in Angela's Ashes, Joe Queenan is an Irishman who describes the challenges of childhood poverty and a reprobate father. Cynical, iconoclastic, impressively learned, mercilessly honest, and utterly fascinating. I couldn't put it down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Doug Smith | 1/16/2014

    " Really good story but with a record number of trite phrases, woven into lots of off-putting overwriting. Queenan is a better writer than this but I'm still glad I read it . . . "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Inunn56 | 1/16/2014

    " Terrific memoir by Joseph Queenan who makes understandable the development of defensive cynicism to get through a hard life and to finally escape it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah | 1/16/2014

    " Mostly I enjoyed this book for the descriptions of Philadelphia. I disagreed with his style of attributing any unique quality as a result of being Irish-Catholic, which seems almost lazy at the frequency he did it. The vast majority of the book is about his relationship with his abusive father, and that storyline was less compelling to me than the one of Philadelphia in the 50s. Overall though, it was well written and I dog-eared some pages for the interesting sentiment. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Suzanne | 1/15/2014

    " Queenan is a journalist first and a memoirist second, but he has a sharp wit and refreshing candor. I especially enjoyed his un-pc take on AA and the 12 steps. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lynn | 1/1/2014

    " Sweet memoir about his childhood in Philly. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathy | 12/9/2013

    " Joe can turn a phrase beautifully. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 12/8/2013

    " Wonderful audiobook- not sure I would have enjoyed reading it in regular format- "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Dawn Briscoe | 6/25/2013

    " I just couldn't get into this book. After 50 pages of really trying to figure out why, I gave up. It seemed monotonous and moved to slowly for me to continue. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Audrey | 5/22/2013

    " Great book! Joe Queenan is a phenomenal writer and I know that's a huge reason that I enjoyed this book so much. The story of Joe growing up in poverty with an alcoholic father is quite sad but the relationship that he built with his father was unexpected. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gwenn | 3/14/2013

    " spoke to me, as I, too, am irish-american and had a shitty dad. but it devolved toward the end into boomer corniness. sorry you missed woodstock, joe, but at least you have your jewel-like children. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike Prusaitis | 2/12/2013

    " gifted language skills - both in vocal & literary tools & tricks. Considering the mass of it is one sad sad sad story of a family terrorized by a abusive & drunken father, done so entertainingly and with memorable insights. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer Glick | 11/7/2012

    " Just finished, love Joe even when he uses words like brobindingian. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary | 10/18/2012

    " An American Angela's Ashes. Once again we learn that the phrase "pathological Irish" is a tautology. Joe Queenan uses his wicked tongue to excise the cancer of his upbringing. Yet amusing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tama | 4/16/2012

    " For me, it was THAT good. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lise Dumont | 11/13/2011

    " So far, I'm loving the gorgeous writing. And the fact that I'm learning new words every other page. Only about halfway through. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carole | 10/30/2011

    " Joe Queenan grew up in dire poverty with an alcoholic abusive father and an emotionally distant mother. And he lived to tell us his story. I found the book compelling. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Iman | 4/5/2011

    " I appreciated some of his keen observations about human nature and his language, however I found it extremely repeptitive. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kather21 | 1/9/2011

    " Joe can turn a phrase beautifully. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 liz | 12/14/2010

    " ah, this one hit rather close to home. didn't want to put this one down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gwenn | 7/24/2010

    " spoke to me, as I, too, am irish-american and had a shitty dad. but it devolved toward the end into boomer corniness. sorry you missed woodstock, joe, but at least you have your jewel-like children. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen | 5/24/2010

    " Well written, but hard to read. Such a painful childhood. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Suzanne | 5/13/2010

    " Queenan is a journalist first and a memoirist second, but he has a sharp wit and refreshing candor. I especially enjoyed his un-pc take on AA and the 12 steps. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Marty | 3/20/2010

    " Queenan doesn't like anybody much which makes him pretty unlikable himself. He doesn't like the class he rose from and he doesn't like the class he rose to. He seems to like only the Joe Queenan class. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Doug | 2/15/2010

    " Really good story but with a record number of trite phrases, woven into lots of off-putting overwriting. Queenan is a better writer than this but I'm still glad I read it . . . "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen | 2/11/2010

    " This was an interesting read - but I felt like sometimes he didn't give enough examples - esp his early relationship w/ his father. W/out giving spoilers - I thought the ending was really heart-warming, and I was happy for Joe, the author. "

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About the Author
Author Joe Queenan

Joe Queenan is the author of the books Confessions of a Cineplex Heckler, True Believers, and If You’re Talking to Me, Your Career Must Be in Trouble, among others. A regular contributor to the New York Times, his writing has also been featured in Time, Newsweek, GQ, Esquire, People, Forbes, and Rolling Stone, to name a few. He is a frequent guest on network talk shows and has hosted radio programs for the BBC. He lives in Tarrytown, New York.

About the Narrator

Johnny Heller, a two-time winner of the prestigious Audie Award, was named a top voice of 2008 and 2009 and selected as one of the Top 50 Narrators of the Twentieth Century by AudioFile magazine. His adult and children’s book narrations have earned him multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards.