I feel about this book as an amateur Amazon reader did: 5-star book with a 3-star end. Although, I might be so bold as to say it was a 1-star end.
After all the studied and meticulous portrayal of characters, those that no matter how sad and lonely they are and despite all their missteps you appreciate for who they are and why they are, Barry ends the book with a sentiment that I could not get behind.
Yes, all these characters hang out in a bar and drink a lot. And are clearly drunks. But we care for them because of their life choices, not their drinking (albeit its own life choice). Consequently, the sentiment "Say what you will about drunks . . . but no one will love you like they can" sounds like it's all well and good to be a drunk. In fact, it's better to be a drunk.
Ugh. How unfortunate, as Barry really can write. I suppose one could argue that drinking being such a central theme of the stories, it had to be tied into the last paragraph. Instead, I think the more prominent theme of "gee, life's a pain, and most people never, ever learn to figure it out, but continue onwards anyway" should have gotten final billing.