Tales from the Eternal Café, author Janet Hamill’s debut short story collection, offers a thrilling, unwinding trail of tales that excite and mystify, drift then deliver a powerful punch that readers will devour. Seventeen stories lure readers into a labyrinth of surprise and suspense, with humor lurking just on the other side of pathos, a tear just moments away from bright, well-deserved laughter. It is an unleashing of an incredible imagination through noir-like, neo-surrealistic tales of passion and mystery. As Katie Farris, author of boysgirls raves, “Hamill’s mysterious tales are peopled by restless, worldly souls grappling with love, art, and death, glimpsed as if from between the columns of the Coliseum or in the maze of Morocco’s medina. These interludes are often left unresolved, adrift in time, as if the characters, having surfaced just long enough for us to see their colors, had submerged again—back to their dazzling, bohemian lives.”
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Legendary Rock Star and Award-Winning Writer Patti Smith
Reads from Tales from the Eternal Café
High Praise for Tales from the Eternal Café
“Acclaimed poet Hamill (Body of Water) uses the location of a cafe, a destination long associated with thinkers, dreamers, and conversationalists who dwell there, as the springboard for many of the stories in this rich and diverse debut story collection. Each of the 17 entries dazzles with virtuosity and uniqueness . . . Hamill’s dialogue tactfully embraces each setting and her keen eye for the detail is enthralling. Readers will be thoroughly drawn into scenes of love, redemption, belief and delusion as well as alienation and fear in this terrific collection.” Publishers Weekly, starred review; cited as one of the Best Books of 2014.
“Some of these are stories are so exquisite they could almost be considered prose poems…Rich and rewarding. A fascinating collection.” —Wally Wood, BookPleasures.com. Read the complete review here.
“The tales birthed in this glowing sphere speak not only of her expansive visionary power and well-traveled life but of her devotion to copious research. Her work ranges from cinematic tales that are fresh and present to those written in the tradition of storytellers throughout time. Her tales told within cafés conjure up the atmosphere of a plethora of eras, laying out mysteries both decadent and divine. We notice a different light falling on the complex movements of her characters, separate skies, separate stars.” –from the Introduction by Patti Smith
“An exceptionally intelligent and elegant collection. Janet Hamill shows a terrific ear and eye for detail as she leads us through beautifully considered snapshots of the loved and unloved, the desperate, the hopeful, and the notorious. Both witty and restrained, these international stories mesmerize the reader with their unexpected plot twists.” —Jane Ormerod, author of Welcome to the Museum of Cattle
“Hamill’s mysterious tales are peopled by restless, worldly souls grappling with love, art, and death, glimpsed as if from between the columns of the Coliseum or in the maze of Morocco’s medina. These interludes are often left unresolved, adrift in time, as if the characters, having surfaced just long enough for us to see their colors, had submerged again—back to their dazzling, bohemian lives. Tales from the Eternal Café is a haunting, atmospheric book—a djinn’s lamp in paper and ink.” —Katie Farris, author of boysgirls
“The cafés in these tales are the archetypal haunts of artists. Some are successful (even famous), others are not. All, however, are driven by a powerful urge. They are driven to plot, scheme, woo, assist in creative pursuits or thwart them. We’re familiar with some of these people, such as Charles Baudelaire, the focus of the opening tale. Here, we get a clear, sympathetic picture of the great poet in decline. In other tales, members of Janet Hamill’s “café society” come to life in historic settings, vividly described. For our pleasure, each tale has a plot twist, an ending that can’t be predicted. There are many moments of sudden realization, when the reader is tempted to slap his or her forehead and say, “Aha!” May this eternal café never close.” —Thaddeus Rutkowski, author of Haywire, Tetched and Roughhouse
“Within the covers of Janet Hamill’s Tales from the Eternal Café nothing is past; time curls into itself like the invisible dimensions of string theory. This is Proust by way of Borges: real and fictional characters happily co-exist and historical events still occur somewhere in timespace, accessible to that special insight Nietzsche called “knowledge beyond reason.” Set in diverse times and places, the stories cohere in translucent layers, like the colored washes of Rothko paintings that mesmerize the speaker of one of these tales.” —Diana Manister, poet and critic
About Janet Hamill
JANET HAMILL is the author of five books of poetry, prose poetry and short fiction. Her work had been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Prize. Tales from the Eternal Café is her first complete collection of stories. In addition to her books, Janet has released two spoken word CD’s with the band Lost Ceilings (previously Moving Star), featuring cameos by Lenny Kaye, Patti Smith, David Amram and Bob Holman. After three decades in New York City, Janet now resides in the Hudson Valley.