– by Hufsa Tahir
Jean-Paul Daoust’s The Sandbar is, at its heart, delightfully amusing. Nonchalant in its doleful foretelling at the end of every tale, this collection of short stories follows a refracting path showcasing the lives of the crew of The Sandbar.
The stories almost seem to poke fun at the day-to-day events that the quirky cast of characters cherishes: Aunt and Uncle’s never-ending “war of attrition”, the pretty barmaid holding court at the bar, the lonely pianist’s nightly fifteen minutes of fame, the rowdy relatives from New York. Enveloping it all as a reminder of grim reality—the Blacks’ Rebellion, the death of Marilyn Monroe and the birth of the hippie era.
Living through it all is young Nephew, adopted by his Aunt and Uncle at eleven and growing up amidst the craziness of the bar’s patrons. He has his first sip of alcohol at twelve and is predicted by many a customer to become a full-blown alcoholic before he reaches legal drinking age. Surprisingly, Nephew may just be the sanest person at The Sandbar, with an unshakeable composure that keeps him grounded through every shenanigan he’s pulled into.
Simultaneously entertaining and disquieting in its blunt reminders of the stark reality of 1950-60s America, The Sandbar will draw you into a world of lovable characters and the ridiculous everyday incidents that make for memories worth keeping.