Monday, March 02, 2009

The Stories in Hemingway's Coffee

Of course, the topic of writing in cafes has come up on this blog before. I thought, though, you would enjoy this piece by Jane Sullivan in The Age. She talks about how cafes have long nurtured the writer's craft and provided the sort of distractions that soak into the fiction.

This description is particularly lovely :
On a cold, rainswept day in Paris, Ernest Hemingway went into a good cafe he knew on the Place St Michel. He ordered a cafe au lait, took out his notebook and began to write a story about boys in Michigan. The boys in the story were drinking and that made him thirsty, so he ordered a rum St James. Then a pretty girl came in and sat at a table by the window. Hemingway looked at her and was disturbed and excited. He went on writing, ordered another rum St James and watched the girl whenever he looked up or sharpened his pencil. He entered far into his story and was lost in it. Then it was finished. He knew it was a good story, he was very tired and sad and the girl had gone. He ordered a half-carafe of white wine and a dozen oysters and, as he ate and drank, began to be happy and to make plans.
She also writes about how The Australian Poetry Centre is introducing a Cafe Poet Program, where the selected poet in each state or territory is invited to sit as "poet in residence" in a cafe in their city for six months, with free tea and coffee provided. Not a bad job for someone!

By the way, one book I have been longing to buy for sometime is Noel Reiley Fitch's Grand Literary Cafe's of Europe. True biblioporn.


dreamer idiot said...

Cafe-poet in residence? Neat!

During my Honours year, I sometimes sat at cafes where I thought up some ideas for my essays. I kinda miss those days...

Yusuf Martin said...

I've tried this at Starbucks, but no rum and no wine - not quite the same is it?