By Eileen Battersby
Literary perfection is elusive, yet it is possible, as Vivek Shanbhag demonstrates in his magnificent novella, where comedy is undercut by seething menace and overwhelming regret at a failure to act decently.
As the action begins, the unnamed narrator is taking refuge in his personal sanctuary, a famous old local cafe, named simply Coffee House. “Drinking here makes you feel cultured, sophisticated,” he says, adding: “I come here for respite from domestic skirmishes.”
It is obvious how much he relies on the place, dominated as it is by the astute Vincent, the waiter of whom the narrator reflects: “I suspect he knows the regulars at Coffee House better than they know themselves.”
Something appalling may have happened. A sense of dread has unsettled the narrator: he wants to speak with Vincent, even confide. While he sits and waits in the cafe, aware he has never before lingered so long, a story begins to take shape in his mind. Read more
Source: The Irish Times