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Johnny, one of the hackmen outside, put the whole thing in a nutshell one night when they were talking about a certain hangout and Johnny said, “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
In spite of the long title, John McNulty’s “Some Nights When Nothing Happens Are The Best Nights In This Place” is a short story that is short at about 5 pages. The title gives the basic premise as the narrator discusses the boss of a Third Street saloon and his desire to not have a bar that’s so crowded. While the boss understands the relationship between customers and money, he prefers to get to know people on an individual basis. Something difficult to do with a lot of people.
The story could be considered a study in character as the narrator talks of a few people who the boss likes having at his establishment; however, I would call it more of a study in conversation and dialect. Similar to William Heuman’s story “Brooklyns Lose”, it has that New York City rhythm of speech. It’s what I would call the story’s selling point.
All in all, it’s a nice little story. Probably not a favorite like “Brooklyns Lose” but still nice.
I read this story when I selected the Queen of Hearts for Week 30 of my Deal Me In 2017 short story project. It’s included in my copy of Wonderful Town: New York Stories from The New Yorker edited by David Remnick. My Deal Me In list can be found here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.