Thank you to Viking Books for the #gifted finished copy of Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supperclub by J. Ryan Stradal. #partner
I loved The Lager Queen of Minnesota (click the title link for my review) and knew I needed to get my hands on J. Ryan Stradal’s latest novel, Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supperclub. Supper clubs are a staple in Midwest culture. They are near and dear to my heart for so many reasons. I waitressed my way through them in high school and college where I met my best friend and husband (the one in the background of this picture is one I worked at, oh the memories!) Every Friday, from the age of 16, consisted of working incredibly busy and chaotic Friday Night fish fry, while Saturdays consisted of prime rib special with popovers, relish tray, salad bar, brandy old fashioneds and finished off with grasshoppers or golden Cadillacs. We had our regulars who had the same drink and food order for 30+ years, the bar gossip that always made me giggle (turns out people in the 60s have very similar drama to teenagers, I guess we don’t age out of drama) and the banter with the other waitstaff, bartenders and kitchen staff was what I lived for as a teenager. I loved it all. Stolen kisses in the walk-in cooler, sneaking onion rings off prepped orders, and joking around with the cooks are memories I hold close to my heart.
Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supperclub was so nostalgic for me. J. Ryan Stradal is a master at writing a sense of place that pops off the page. He encompasses all that supper clubs a story that covers multiple generations of strong midwestern women and all they have loved, lost and sacrificed. I love the character driven aspect of Stradal’s stories. There were some stories I wanted more from and there easily could have been an additional 100 pages, but that also shows his restraint as a writer. If I had to compare them, I prefer The Lager Queen of Minnesota. The nostalgia of Lakeside kept me intrigued, but if I didn’t live in Wisconsin or didn’t know about the wonder that are Midwest supper clubs, I don’t think I’d be into it. For that reason, I understand some of the polarizing reviews. Mostly, Lakeside had me in a nostalgic trance, hence why I enjoyed it.
My local indie bookstore, Chapter2Books, recently hosted J. Ryan Stradal and I had the pleasure of meeting him. He is a gem!
“She'd heard enough regrets in her lifetime to know that dreams don't always die because of something terrible, but more often because of something that's merely acceptable.”
For those who are unfamiliar with supper clubs, one of my all-time favorites: Laurel’s Supperclub in New Richmond, WI. When I think of a supper club, I think of Laurels: old red carpet, weird unmatched vintage décor, scratched tables with white tablecloths on Saturday night, and a crotchety woman manning the bar who makes the best old fashioned this side of the Mississippi. Their Friday Night Fish is incredible and Saturday Night Prime Rib is to die for. Every meal comes with so much 'extras' like popovers, relish tray, cracker basket, soup or salad, that by the time you get to your entree, you are stuffed to the gills. Whenever we go here, we literally leave with several grocery size bags full of leftovers. Supper clubs are my version of heaven on earth.