Site Map: MAIN / A Reader's Journal, Vol. 2 Webpage  Printer Ready


The Star Café
and Other Stories

Mary Caponegro

Published by Charles Scribner's Sons, NY in 1990
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2003


Like Us? Subscribe to Receive a Monthly Email
Reminder of New Reviews & New DIGESTWORLD Issues — CLICK


I Always Look Up Egregious is the title of a book I recall from the last century whenever I find a new word in a book I'm reading. The "last century" is an interesting phrase that none of us born around the middle of the last century ever got to use before, so there's a lot of pent-up demand. I know I was all set to use it "often and early," like the supporters were urged to vote in Boston during the last century: VOTE OFTEN and EARLY for JAMES MICHAEL CURLEY, but my former determination has tapered off to velleity. Now there's a rare and interesting word velleity — one might go to the unabridged to find a definition for that one! So rare that the proofreader let it slip by on page 130 with only one 'l' which made my determination to find its meaning awash in confusion because there was no such word as veleity in the 2662 page dictionary I was looking in. Would I have to take out my magnifying glass to search the 16,000 page OED condensed? Luckily my eyes kept scanning the page to find the word velleity which means "imperfect or incomplete volition" or simply put, "the lowest level of desire". Nice to have a word for the other end of the spectrum of determination. Thanks, Mary.

But I digress. Don't you just hate writers who say, "But I digress" as though the reader is supposed to forgive them for poor writing? What was I writing about anyway? Oh, The Star Café! It's a lovely story set in a surrealistic café that opens up through a door that shouldn't be there where Carol goes to do things she shouldn't do in front of others alone.

"Back in Ten" begins the novella of Sebastian that fills the second half of this book of stories. Sebastian — can one ever recover a naive view of that name after Brideshead Revisited ? This Sebastian is special, in the way that only Englishmen in America can be special. He expects service and is instead confronted by these almost illegible scribbled notes like "BACK IN FIFTENE" left in places where one would expect service instead of public displays of illiteracy.

[page 94] That's America, thinks Sebastian. That's America all over. If Napoleon disparagingly labeled England "a nation of shopkeepers," what then might one call this nation, which cannot even competently accomplish this function?

"A nation of Internet users," perhaps? Like the railroads of the 18th Century, the Internet is the newest means of fast communication and immediate gratification of desires, and as such is making instant millionaires and billionaires of those riding the new cybernetic railroad to riches. Shops and shopkeepers will soon be passé, replaced by websites and e-commerce. Why, just the other day I saw my first e-adjective on a billboard, and I'm e-fraid to tell you what it was. Now we've all seen email, e-money, and such e-nouns before, but this was the first e-adjective, so I thought I should be the first to create an e-adverb and e-mediatelytm came up with one. Naturally I trademarked my prototype e-mediatelytm in the best tradition of American commerce. I can see it now, our newest slogan emblazoned all along the Information Superhighway with flashing banners in hyper-colored text:

Get your e-ducation from us, e-mediately at!

But I digress. And so does Mary Capronegro, but she does it with elan and verve and with very terse phrases at times. Like this almost sentence: "Extraordinary at times: her hubris." Which forms inside me a velleity welling up perforce into determination to write of Mary's stories thus. Extraordinary at times: her brevity. Extraordinary at times: the coffee at The Star Café.

P. S. For insight as to my writing style for this review, see The Art of Fiction by David Lodge.


Any questions about this review, Contact: Bobby Matherne


== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==
22+ Million Good Readers have Liked Us
22,454,155 as of November 7, 2019
  Mo-to-Date Daily Ave 5,528 Readers  
For Monthly DIGESTWORLD Email Reminder:
! You'll Like Us, Too!

== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==

Click Left Photo for List of All ARJ2 Reviews      Click Right Bookcover for Next Review in List
Did you Enjoy this Webpage?
Subscribe to the Good Mountain Press Digest: Click Here!



All the tools you need for a simple Speed Trace IN ONE PLACE.

Do you feel like you're swimming against a strong current in your life? Are you fearful? Are you seeing red? Very angry? Anxious? Feel down or upset by everyday occurrences? Plagued by chronic discomforts like migraine headaches? Have seasickness on cruises? Have butterflies when you get up to speak? Learn to use this simple 21st Century memory technique. Remove these unwanted physical body states, and even more, without surgery, drugs, or psychotherapy, and best of all: without charge to you.


Counselor? Visit the Counselor's Corner for Suggestions on Incorporating Doyletics in Your Work.

All material on this webpage Copyright 2019 by Bobby Matherne