The local bar—the true, no-frills, nameless dive bar—offers its patrons a refuge, a place to express their doubts, dreams, regrets, and failures. Here they can escape or celebrate life; tell tall tales and jokes, or rage against the inherent unfairness of the human condition. Chances are you've spent time in a place like this yourself—but whether minutes or hours or years, you'll want to spend more in here. Lyrical and hypnotic, Ninety-Nine Bottles is a distillation of Joseph G. Peterson's considerable talents, and a powerful and emotional meditation on the repetitions and variations of life—regular people searching for meaning in these sad and beautiful places. Why not stop in for a few?
Joe Peterson is "...one of the Windy City's best-kept secrets." -- Kirkus Reviews
For me, Joe Peterson's voice is a fresh pair of feet on the very dusty road of contemporary American literature." -- Dan Fante, bestselling author of Fante: A Family's Legacy of Writing, Drinking and Surviving
"Writer and drinker Jack London said of saloons that 'there, life was different. Men talked with great voices, laughed great laughs, and there was an atmosphere of greatness...Terrible they might be, but then that only meant they were terribly wonderful.' In prose as sharp as shards of a shattered beer glass and tart as the lime with your shot of tequila, Joseph G. Peterson's Ninety Nine Bottles depicts the dynamics of a drinker's and a bar's terrible greatness. Open this book, as you might walk beneath an Old Style sign into any random Chicago corner tavern, to find a sense of peace and solace and connection to others, as well as the loneliness and despair that can come when the Bar, and the contents of its countless bottles, becomes your whole world. A book full of insight, humor, heartbreak, and humanity." -- Bill Savage, Northwestern University
"This is an outstanding work that crosses the boundary between poetry and prose in ways reminiscent of Michael Ondaajte's The English Patient. The ninety-nine vignettes give a coherent picture of a life filled with tragedy and spurned opportunity, yet the book never descends into pathos; what we find instead is a brilliant meditation by a central character who has made many of the mistakes we all dread. Virtually the whole story is set in a bar, with the hero at varying stages of drunkenness, but none of this affects his ability to give us insights into our existence, all rendered in Peterson's masterful style." -- Stephen Grant, author of Spanish Light