Thursday, March 26, 2009

Top Java Moments... in literature

Benjamin Obler's top 10 fictional coffee scenes

From Cheever to Murakami, debut novelist and coffee lover Benjamin Obler brews up the most aromatic mentions of coffee in literature.

1. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Janie went down and the landlady made her drink some coffee with her because she said her husband was dead and it was bad to be having your morning coffee by yourself.

2. The Russian Debutante's Handbook by Gary Shteyngart

...he grew restless, attributing it to the coffee settling in his stomach.

3. Running Dog by Don DeLillo

Glen Selvy stuck his head around the edge of the partition to say good night. Lightborne asked him in for coffee, which was perking on a GE hotplate in a corner of the room. Selvy checked his watch and sat in a huge, dusty armchair … [Lightborne] poured three cups. Moll believed she detected an edge of detachment in Selvy's voice and manner.

4. The Savage Detectives by Roberto BolaƱo


I'm sick for real. Rosario is making me stay in bed. Before she left for work she went out to borrow a thermos from a neighbour and she left me half a litre of coffee. Also four aspirin. I have a fever. I've started and finished two poems.

5. Good Evening, Mrs And Mr America and All the Ships at Sea by Richard Bausch

The waiter came to take their orders. He stood in front of them, holding his pad and waiting - a balding, heavyset man with a tattoo of a falcon on one arm.

"Oh," she said. "Let me see. I'll have a cup of chilli with onions and crackers, and the pork chops, with a baked potato, and a salad. And these chicken wings. Am I going too fast?"

The waiter looked at her with drowsy eyes. "Salad - " he said.

"And milk. And coffee. Oh, and sour cream and butter on the potato."

6. Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence

What will you drink – coffee?

7. A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

I met her in autumn nine years ago, when I was twenty and she was seventeen.

There was a small coffee shop near the university where I hung out with friends. It wasn't much of anything, but it offered certain constants: hard rock and bad coffee.

8. The Comforters by Muriel Spark

"Tell me about the voices," he said. "I heard nothing myself. From what direction did they come?"

"Over there, beside the fireplace," she answered.

"Would you like some tea? I think there is tea."

"Oh, coffee. Could I have some coffee? I don't think I'm likely to sleep."

9. George Saunders's short story The Barber's Unhappiness from his collection Pastoralia

Mornings the barber left his stylists inside and sat outside of his ship drinking coffee and ogling every woman in sight.

10. John Cheever's short story O City of Broken Dreams from The Stories of John Cheever

The Malloys found their way, that afternoon, to the Broadway Automat. They shouted with pleasure at the magical coffee spigots and the glass doors that sprang open.

- Benjamin Obler, writing for

Read the unabridged article here.

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