The Empty Cafe
by Michael Hoffman
Category: Fiction / General
260 pages; ISBN: 0759619867
Rating: 8/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Paul Lappen
This group of stories take place somewhere between fantasy and reality.
A man goes away to school and eventually becomes a history professor, losing touch with his younger brother. One day, he opens the newspaper and sees a picture of little brother, fronting a popular rock music band. Overnight, the older brother’s life is turned upside down, as he goes from being an average college professor to brother of a famous rock star. A westerner living in Japan, accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl, watches as his innocence slowly disappears.
A woman and her fiance are eating in an expensive restaurant. Suddenly, she notices an older gentleman a few tables away and screams. The fiance takes her home immediately, and after a good night’s sleep, it’s as if the incident in the restaurant never happened. A couple of times, the woman says “I won’t hurt you,” for seemingly no reason at all. The object of her emotional reaction, an actor, appeared in a film a few years previously. It’s about a man who befriends a little girl, takes her shopping for a doll, then drugs her, undresses her and photographs her, but otherwise doesn’t harm her.
A police officer in present-day Bangkok, Thailand, after reuniting a lost boy with his frantic parents, tells of how his own son, a schizophrenic, committed suicide. Perhaps those who hear voices in their heads are the sane ones, and the rest of us, who can’t hear them, are insane.
These stories are really good. Hoffman has done a fine job throughout. They are easy to read, with real people as characters and are highly recommended.