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The Evening Crowd at Kirmser's: A Gay Life in the 1940s

por Ricardo J. Brown

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1104249,376 (4.08)7
The Evening Crowd at Kirmser's is a compelling memoir of the author's experiences as a young gay man during the 1940's. In an engaging and open writing style, and through stories both humorous and tragic, Brown introduces us to the companions and friends he met at Kirmser's, a working-class bar in downtown St. Paul that became an unofficial home to gay men and lesbians at night. "Whimsical, insightful, and compellingly readable, Ricardo Brown's memoir offers a remarkable portrait of the life gay men built for themselves after the Second World War in small cities far from the coastal meccas… (mais)
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Well, this was a total surprise.

I read this for research for a historical fiction novel I'm writing and it hit precisely in my niche. Working class, queer man in the armed forces.

... and it was such a lovely read!

Brown is a journalist and so he includes thoughtful anecdotes alongside some beautifully written passages. He seems like a romantic old soul and I loved reading his unassuming memoir.

Brown discusses everything, from the process of his dishonourable discharge to how he would come out to various friends and how he coped being queer in the 1940's and post-war years.

So thoughtful, so precious, I loved how neat this memoir was -- about a particular bar and most of its occupants and the atmosphere, but then Brown would wax poetic about the weather or someone's broad shoulders and I really appreciated this balance of story and poetry.

Lots of little moments, without the fuss of dates or who was who or any stress on facts. Just a man looking back on his life, and there's something so humble about him that it makes the writing beautiful. ( )
  lydia1879 | Feb 1, 2020 |
The book provides a glimpse into gay life in the 1940s. This story focused on a few years of one man's life in St. Paul; it could be set almost any city. The book brings to life the rules of discretion, formation of community, the search for love, and the humiliation of exposure.
At times coarse with a few abrupt transitions, this quick read is well worth the time for its insights into gay life in the 1940s. ( )
  MichaelC.Oliveira | Jul 23, 2012 |
Less than honourably discharged from the navy in 1945 for disclosing his homosexuality, Ricardo Brown returns to St Paul Minnesota to try to make a life for himself. He finds a nondescript bar that caters to a gay clientele and it becomes his social centre. This very readable memoir shines a light on what it was like to be gay in a time when Stonewall was not even conceivable. Recommended. ( )
  mikerr | Feb 20, 2012 |
It is better. I just discovered this little book in the Library at the GLCC in Pittsburgh. It's a well written, poignant, memoir and history of gays in St. Paul, MN in the mid-1940s. Kirmser's is a straight bar by day and a gay bar at night where St. Pauls men and women can come together for a few hours to be themselves. If you don't have any idea what life for a gay man in the Midwest right after World War II, Brown paints a great portrait. The book tells a vivid story of the closed, double lives gays and lesbians were forced to live during this time. This is Brown's autobiography but it's a great story of the time and place. In 2011, we really don't know how well we have it.

This is a great companion books to "Gay Bar: the fabulous, true story of a daring woman and her boys in the 1950s" by Will Fellows and Helen P. Branson that came out in 2010. If you like Gay Bar you will definitely like this one. If you have any interest at all in gay history you will want to read both. ( )
  e-zReader | Sep 5, 2011 |
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We never just walked into Kirmer's, nothing as simple as that.
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The Evening Crowd at Kirmser's is a compelling memoir of the author's experiences as a young gay man during the 1940's. In an engaging and open writing style, and through stories both humorous and tragic, Brown introduces us to the companions and friends he met at Kirmser's, a working-class bar in downtown St. Paul that became an unofficial home to gay men and lesbians at night. "Whimsical, insightful, and compellingly readable, Ricardo Brown's memoir offers a remarkable portrait of the life gay men built for themselves after the Second World War in small cities far from the coastal meccas

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