Teddy Everett, heir to Everett and Sons coffee, knows a good cup when he tastes one. But it’s impossible to get a good cup of coffee when you’re lying in a prison hospital dying of cancer, so instead he tells his coffee story. A story he should have told a long time ago.
A story peopled with capitalists, communists, revolutionaries and fantasists. The story of his first wife, who ran off with a Cuban revolutionary; of Moira, his second wife, whose name meant destiny; and of Lucy Alfarez, the love of his life, who walked out of the jungle aged fourteen with a silver lighter in one hand and coffee bean in the other. In the fragmented narrative of a dying man we are told a story about his legacy, a story about treachery and about his dreams haunted by the need for absolution.
I’ve never drunk a cup of coffee. The strong, bitter smell has always put me off. But reading Peter Salmon’s The Coffee Story I was almost tempted to try a cup. The descriptions of the oily blackness are so sensuous, but this isn’t just a novel with exotic and evocative description, it’s a novel with grit, bite and sharp, sinister twists.
Skilfully written with a wry disjointed narrative that convinces you that this is the disaffected deathbed confession of a man who has seen too much, The Coffee Story is a dark and sophisticated debut novel from Australian writer Peter Salmon.
So, can anyone recommend a place to find a good starter coffee in Oxford? I may yet be converted.