Date of visit: May 10th, 2018
I think this was a quick ‘what’s convenient on a weeknight’ visit; I went from work and did not eat anywhere after, since there would be a parking lot to cross before I could enter any restaurant.
I did read two of the books in cafes, though!
The Riddle of Life and Death (Tell Me a Riddle, Tille Olsen, and The Death of Ivan Ilych, Leo Tolstoy) — I suspect I’ll need to read both of these a few times to have any insight worth writing; both novellas are about people near the ends of their lives. This combination-book is by The Feminist Press at CUNY, and I’m glad that the bundling made me read two stories that I otherwise never would have.
I read this book in Bedlam Coffee, drinking a lavender latte. First I sat outside on Second avenue, watching people pass by on the protected bike lane, and others walking to / from their Mother’s day brunches. After a while I went inside and upstairs, where I found the most extraordinary nook — I ensconced myself in there and finished.
The Bridges of Madison County (Robert James Waller) — So I feel like I know of this book from one of those 90’s commercials: “Favorites like Revolutionary Road. Some other American novel. The Bridges of Madison County.”
It’s very touching and romantic indeed. I lost a little respect for the book when I read that the author says that he took inspiration for the attractive, lithe, man-character from himself.
Border Town (Shen Congwen) — This is one of those books where everything is so gentle and idyllic that you know something terrible is going to happen, and it does. I’m not sure I know what it’s saying — it was published in 1934, pre-communist revolution, and I feel like that exempts it from the style of obvious allegory that I’ve gotten so used to (Zhang Yimou I’m looking at you). I think there’s the suggestion that life goes on, but of course it won’t; it’s pre-communist china and tumult is coming.
I read this book at Cafe Ladro. I think the manager and a higher-up manager were having a meeting when I joined them on the back porch. My soy latte was very good.
And the one I didn’t read:
I Don’t Want to Kill You (Dan Wells) — Maybe horror stories are all kind of painfully derivative, and it’s only the size of your reputation that makes you the original one and everyone else derivative? The guy returns to his hometown to defeat a shapeshifting spirit named Nobody. (It kind of rings a bell) I couldn’t.