June 1, 2019

Charming Indie Bookstores of Brooklyn

Charming Indie Bookstores of Brooklyn

By Simran P. Gupta Living in an “outer borough” of New York City has made me appreciative of what lies beyond the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. While many of the best-known NYC bookstores are on the island, there are a number of hidden gems that warrant a subway ride across the river to Brooklyn. While it’s true that certain neighborhoods are facing waves of gentrification, the borough as a whole has held on to its roots. That is to say, community spaces still reign supreme. And of course, at the heart of it are its independent bookstores. Molasses Books             Specializing in secondhand books only, visitors will immediately feel relaxed and at home at Molasses. It’s easy to miss from the outside, tucked away as it is on a quiet street between two busy…

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May 22, 2019

“All Artists are Anarchists”

“All Artists are Anarchists”

Anarchy, Jack’s third Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers Novel Set amid the tumultuous days of American dissent against the Vietnam War and nationwide student riots, Anarchy brings Tim Rosencrantz, from Wild Blue Yonder, back into Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers’s life, intent on evil and disruption. Tim, student protester, SDS member, avowed Communist and now discharged from the Air Force, has had a transformation on the bombed-out streets of New York and is now a full-fledged member of Weatherman. Bent on bombing America to its senses, he wants Nate at his side. It’s now 1971 and Nate’s writing career has launched with the publication of The Pieces Fit, his collection of short stories. While he is anti-war and intellectually empathetic, Nate is unwilling to participate in Tim’s anarchy – until, that is, Tim coerces him. Their lives become an…

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May 15, 2019

“Madrone,” Because People Asked “What Happens Next?”

“Madrone,” Because People Asked “What Happens Next?”

It’s March, 1969. Twenty-five-year-old Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers, two months out of the military, arrives in California and into the arms of Jane Chandler, the girl he left behind. Jane, now a junior at the University of California, Santa Cruz, wants Nate to join her in the creative writing program, headed by Professor Gerald “Gerry” Iron Moccasin, a Lacota Sioux Indian with a penchant for literary theory. Nate is thwarted in his application for admission to Santa Cruz by his poor grades from the University of Chicago, giving him cause to rethink his academic career path. Pressured on every side by Gerry, Jane’s father Will, his widowed mother and the button-down American path to success, Nate increasingly questions whether a college degree—even from prestigious UC Santa Cruz—will help him become a writer. He spurns the college…

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May 8, 2019

“Wild Blue Yonder,” The Novel That Started It All

“Wild Blue Yonder,” The Novel That Started It All

It’s 1965. Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers has lost his father, flunked out of the University of Chicago, and finds himself facing the draft. He opts for four years in the US Air Force over two years of Vietnam in the army. He and four like-minded troops are thrown together at a small remote air base in Germany, where they try to make sense of their lives and the strange world in which they find themselves. These are military misfits whose behavior doesn’t quite qualify for a dishonorable discharge, yet are sufficiently problematic that if they were sent into the Southeast Asia war zone it would look like punishment—therefore more trouble for the military brass. So they are sent to a place irreverently known in the military as “Bumf**k,” where they can be forgotten about until their…

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January 8, 2019

We Asked. You Replied. Now It’s Our Turn.

We Asked. You Replied. Now It’s Our Turn.

Last week we asked you, our faithful Coffee Club members, to share your favorite book(s) of 2018 (after all, it’s a time-honored ritual). We were delighted with your responses and your choices. As promised, now it’s your baristas’ turn to share our 2018 faves. (You can see our bios and pictures of us here.) Our hope is that all of us get to tip one another off to a good read! Jason: “Absolutely THE MARROW THIEVES, I’M AFRAID OF MEN, and THE GHOST KEEPER. Three very different books by amazing authors.” ** Ruby: Sea Swept of The Chesapeake Bay Saga by Nora Roberts is one of the sweetest books I read in 2018. Set on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, each book focuses on one of the four Quinn men. In true Roberts fashion, she provides the reader…

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January 2, 2019

Happy 2019 and a Request, Fictional Cafe Coffee Lovers!

Happy 2019 and a Request, Fictional Cafe Coffee Lovers!

OK, OK, Happy New Year to all you tea lovers, too. Hey, I just wanted to send out a personal best-wishes message and thank you for being members of our Coffee Club. And to mention that 2019 is going to be an exciting year for FC. We’ll turn six years old in May, and even before that our first annual Fictional Cafe Anthology will be published. Yes, friends, all of this is a labor of love for us, and we love you for loving what we do here. The featured photo above is your faithful head barista, taken this afternoon. My wife and I have a tradition of riding our bikes on New Year’s Day, no matter the weather, no matter how cold. Last year was sub-zero and we only lasted as long as our…

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October 17, 2018

Ghostographs: An Album by Maria Romasco Moore

Ghostographs: An Album by Maria Romasco Moore

NOTE: Ghostographs is a chapbook of short fictions inspired by old photographs by Maria Romasco Moore. It will be published November 1 by Rose Metal Press. The following review was written by Simran P. Gupta, Fictional Café’s Poetry Barista. Ghostographs: An Album by Maria Romasco Moore   The Perfect Book to Welcome Fall Reviewed by Simran P. Gupta The sun is setting earlier and earlier, the temperature is dropping steadily, and it’s time to pull out our long sleeves and warm socks. If you’re like me, you’ll switch from your favorite sweet iced coffee at Starbucks to all the drinks that symbolize fall and its accompanying chill: hot apple cider, cocoa, herbal teas, all things pumpkin. And of course the return of hot coffee! I’ve always been fond of dedicating October to books that make…

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September 3, 2018

“Deluge,” A New Novel by James D. Best

“Deluge,” A New Novel by James D. Best

Jim Best lives in Kansas, where lately raging rain has caused rivers to rise and towns to be flooded in epic proportions. So perhaps his latest novel, Deluge, is prescient. Taking a break from his phenomenally successful Steve Dancy westerns, Deluge is set in the present, but its antecedents are in 1862, when a sixty-five-day downpour pummeled the western United States. California suffered the brunt of the storm. Almost a third of the state was under water, roads were impassible, telegraph lines down, rivers overflowed, hundreds of people died, and hundreds of thousands of animals drowned. Sacramento remained under water for six months, forcing the state government to move to San Francisco. Geological evidence shows that a flood of this magnitude hits the western United States every one to two hundred years. Well, it’s been a…

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August 10, 2018

Exploring Literary Trilogies and Tetralogies by Victoria Merkle

Exploring Literary Trilogies and Tetralogies by Victoria Merkle

Editor’s Note: The trilogy and tetralogy are commonplace in genre fiction: science-fiction, fantasy, mystery. But what of literature? Tori Merkle dissects the phenomenon and helps us understand its often unrecognized significance, not only in storytelling but in an author’s oeuvre.  Literary Chronicles: An Exploration of Trilogies and Tetralogies in Literary Fiction by Tori Merkle It’s a fact of storytelling: chronicles sell. Series novels, commonly a trilogy or tetralogy, are especially popular in genre fiction—we sit waiting and watching for the next sci-fi or fantasy saga to top the bestseller list and then hit the box office. Once we get the first luscious taste of a fictional world, we’re ravenous for more. We become attached to the characters as if they’re intimate friends. We’re eager to know what happens next. This is the same energy that…

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May 24, 2018

Philip Roth, 1933-2018

Philip Roth, 1933-2018

“No two words are more precious to a writer than, ‘You’re free.’” – Philip Roth The Ghost Writer (1979) Zuckerman Unbound (1981) The Anatomy Lesson (1983) The Prague Orgy (1985) The Counterlife (1986) American Pastoral (1997) I Married a Communist (1998) The Human Stain (2000) Exit Ghost (2007) Novotny’s Pain (1980), published by Sylvester & Orphanos The Facts: A Novelist’s Autobiography (1988) Deception: A Novel (1990) Patrimony: A True Story (1991) Operation Shylock: A Confession (1993) The Plot Against America (2004) The Breast (1972) The Professor of Desire (1977) The Dying Animal (2001) Everyman (2006) Indignation (2008) The Humbling (2009) Nemesis (2010) Goodbye, Columbus (1959) Letting Go (1962) When She Was Good (1967) Portnoy’s Complaint (1969) Our Gang (1971) The Great American Novel (1973) My Life as a Man (1974) Sabbath’s Theater (1995)

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