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August 13 , 2010

Sunny's Nights

Lost and Found at a Bar on the Edge of the World


Imagine that Alice had walked into a bar instead of falling down the rabbit hole. In the tradition of J. R. Moehringer’s The Tender Bar and the classic reportage of Joseph Mitchell, here is an indelible portrait of what is quite possibly the greatest bar in the world—and the mercurial, magnificent man behind it.
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The first time he saw Sunny’s Bar, in 1995, Tim Sultan was lost, thirsty for a drink, and intrigued by the single bar sign among the forlorn warehouses lining the Brooklyn waterfront. Inside, he found a dimly lit room crammed with maritime artifacts, a dozen well-seasoned drinkers, and, strangely, a projector playing a classic Martha Graham dance performance. Sultan knew he had stumbled upon someplace special. What he didn’t know was that he had just found his new home.

Soon enough, Sultan has quit his office job to bartend full-time for Sunny Balzano, the bar’s owner. A wild-haired Tony Bennett lookalike with a fondness for quoting Shakespeare and Samuel Beckett, Sunny is truly one of a kind. Born next to the saloon that has been in his family for one hundred years, Sunny has over the years partied with Andy Warhol, spent time in India at the feet of a guru, and painted abstract expressionist originals. But his masterpiece is the bar itself, a place where a sublime mix of artists, mobsters, honky-tonk musicians, neighborhood drunks, nuns, longshoremen, and assorted eccentrics rub elbows. Set against the backdrop of a rapidly transforming city, Sunny’s Nights is a loving and singular portrait of the dream experience we’re all searching for every time we walk into a bar, and an enchanting memoir of an unlikely and abiding friendship.

Advance praise for Sunny’s Nights

Sunny’s Nights is more than an elegy for a bar and a neighborhood—it’s also a vivid and loving portrait of the larger-than-life eccentric who gave the bar its name and its spirit, and a moving memoir about friendship and finding a home. Tim Sultan is a wonderful writer, wry and observant, with a sly sense of humor and a big heart.”—Tom Perrotta, author of The Leftovers

“Tim Sultan tells the terrific story of how one dark and raggedy waterfront bar changed his life. It is a wonderfully drawn portrait of the artist as barkeep.”—Robert Sullivan, author of My American Revolution

“This beautifully written chronicle of a disappearing place and its unforgettable people reveals how, sometimes, friendship endures when everything else, except perhaps the memories, is gone.”—Howard Frank Mosher, author of God’s Kingdom

“[A] polished, affecting look at remarkable barkeep Sunny Balzano . . . In elegant prose, Sultan deploys laconic humor, an instinct for telling details, a taste for eccentricity, and above all, clear-eyed compassion for our all-too-human failings.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Beautifully wrought, evocative . . . an indelible portrait of an unusual man and a nearly forgotten part of NYC.”Booklist

From the Hardcover edition.
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