Review – A Guide To Bars and Nightlife in the Sacred City

A Guide To Bars And Nightlife
In The Sacred City

Author: Benjamin Wachs
Strange Castle Press
ISBN #978-0-9793270-7-0

cover A Guide To Bars

Who is Benjamin Wachs? To appreciate this work, we need to know this. He is a bar columnist for the San Francisco Weekly, his work has been published in Village Voice Media, and on National Public Radio, he has lived in a Buddhist monastery in India, been a freelance reporter for, and traveled around the world.

What exactly is the Sacred City? Is it San Francisco? Is it London? Is it New Delhi? Think bigger. Wachs talks about cities as pulsing with rough love. And that if we tape enough heartfelt wishes on streetlights, and leave enough dreams on the curb, anything can happen. The energy that connects miraculous Thai food in London to a faith healing in San Francisco, to a lost opera in Vienna forms the web of the Sacred City.

Hard to believe this is his first collection of fiction. Wachs is a story-teller extraordinaire, fashioning mystical, surreal stories that start where they start and stop where they stop. The cover of this book is literally the gateway to the stories within. The lovely clear globe shows a representation of “city” energy, with the eyes above it that are looking out at the reader, challenging them to read the stories, to walk through the gateway and be part of the action.

The action is all about people, and what makes them tick. This is a work of fiction, a work filled with stories from the dark side of soul. It draws us in, it shows us the little pieces of this and that that make up the dark side of life.

The drink glass on the cover is there for a reason – the stories largely take place in bars, where alcohol has its place, but is only part of the story. Alcohol is its own gateway into the otherworld of soul.

You can read this book straight through … or you may find yourself reading a story two or three times, and then moving on. Read at the pace that represents you – the time that you spend in the mystical, surreal world of this book is time well spent. An alternate universe, if you will.

Wachs is a storyteller, a well-educated storyteller whose opinions you will want to hear. The work is fiction … but any or all of these places could be real.

“The High Prices In Venice” talks about a prostitute who will not stay the night. She keeps coming back because “she met the main character on her birthday”. “The Napkins of Zurich” describes a meeting that may or may not have taken place between theologian Albrecht Berringer and mathematician Marcus Sloan. My favorite story, “To Look Inside”, talks about an employee who is learning from her employer, who really wants to learn, but has no clue what she will be learning.

This is a book that you will read, and reread, simply for the pleasure.

© 2000 – 2014 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without the written permission of the author.

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