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The Coffee Story [Paperback]

Peter Salmon
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 10.13 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Kindle Edition 5.99  
Paperback 7.68  
Paperback, 7 July 2011 10.13  

Book Description

7 July 2011

This, then, is my coffee story. I should have written it years ago, of course, before my lungs turned to black rubber and left me arse to bedsheet in a prison hospital - a traitor to my country, to my family, to my wives, Moira and the first one, to my Ethiopian friends, but mostly to Lucy, who came out of the jungle with a coffee bean in one hand and a silver lighter in the other. Let me tell you about Lucy.

Hope and hatred, lust and idealism, cowardice, bravery and atonement.

England, Ethiopia, Cuba, America.

But always coffee.

Bring me one more cupful you saccharine, sacrilegious bastards.

We may be in for an all-nighter.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre (7 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444724703
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444724707
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 991,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Reminiscent of Philip Roth's Everyman. But it's much, much funnier' (Sydney Morning Herald)

Part final-hour confession and part memoir, this is funny, imaginative and plausible fiction (Daily Express)

Wild and raucous... an extraordinarily accomplished debut' (Niall Griffiths)

Book Description

A wild, caffeine-fuelled deathbed confession of love and betrayal that spans four continents.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book! 16 Oct 2011
Having read some of the reviews on Amazon about the Coffee Story, I felt moved to write my own because I really loved this amusing story of Theodore `Teddy' Everett, 5th generation coffee magnate. It's boisterously told - despite the fact its truculent narrator is recounting it from a hospice bed (where ghastly coffee is served to the dying in Styrofoam cups, seemingly a final insult to the Everett and Sons coffee empire).

As has been commented on in other reviews, linear narrative appears to have been dispensed with as Teddy's vivid memories pour out of him - his life in Ethiopia with his nave colonialist parents and an unforgettable first love. It weaves through two marriages and two divorces, uprising, revolution and coup. But I thought this apparent lack of linear narrative was deceptive because the story does culminate in a tale he has never shared before, that involves his father.. and one of his few regrets.

I felt the writing style kind of jolted you awake like I imagine a cup of Everett and Sons' finest would. Teddy's narration is shot through with a staccato of constant interruption by his own assessment of his memories, and with constant repetition. It doesn't make for an easy read (and I agree with the reviewer who said it's best to read it in several long chunks) but to me this gave the story dynamism and it allowed me to enjoy the way words were being employed.

I can't finish this review without adding one of my favourite quotes from the book. It's one of Teddy's many trenchant observations of those around him, in this case Birtwhistle, his one time private tutor - `He was an intellectual of mediocre intellect who had seen through the hypocrisy and cant of the world but found nothing with which to replace it. A man of borrowed ideas, desperately pressing any two of them together in the hope of producing a third, and never quite succeeding.' - Lovely.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stylised and non-liner story with real emotion 2 May 2011
By Ripple TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"The Coffee Story" is heavily stylised and certainly fans of linear narratives may find it frustrating. Our narrator is Teddy Everett, head of the Everett and Sons Coffee dynasty, who is in a hospital bed (although it becomes clear that this is no ordinary hospital) knowing full well that he is dying of cancer. It's a painful death and painful too are his memories which, as he says do not come like a story of a life but in chunks.

His life has certainly been eventful. Much of the story relates to his youth in Ethiopia, but also includes his family dynasty over several generations - with much exploitation. He's also had two failed marriages as well as other affairs. Put simply, there's not much to be proud of in Teddy's life and the events have been traumatic. As well as the Ethiopian story, there are snatches of his earlier life in England and later life is New York and Cuba. Teddy's mood swings ferociously as he confesses his often shameful past in florid language that is a veritable assault on the senses.

Some passages are quite wonderful and the story really flies with some terrific descriptions, but at other times, there is a suggestion of style over substance. This is Peter Salmon's first novel and there are signs of his greater knowledge of the short story format. When he concentrates on telling a part of the story it's often brilliant but I confess that at times I found it a little frustrating with frequent repetition. Partly that was because the story itself of Ethiopia, coffee and Western business is so interesting that it is more than strong enough to hold a more linear and straightforward approach.
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5.0 out of 5 stars In the footsteps of Patrick White... 4 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A high octane work of fiction from one of the most promising Australian novelists of recent years. Not aways a comfortable or an easy read, but simmering with emotional and intellectual energy. One feels that Salmon would agree with Yeats that the only things worth writing about are sex and death. He certainly gives notice here that he has only just begun to show us what he can do with the novel. There is something of Patrick White, but much that is unique to Salmon. A fiercely questioning voice, as tender as it is angry. I hear that a new novel is due shortly, but meanwhile do try this one.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Maybe I am just a tea person... 1 Jun 2011
By bomble TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There's no question that Peter Salmon can write. But for me the question remains 'can he write a novel'. I was immediately drawn in by his punchy opening pages and the book is peppered with anecdotes and side stories that evoke a powerful range of imagined sensations. However the quick-fire style and frequent repetitions of key phrases and moments only made me feel progressively more short-changed. The cliche of 'style over substance' was never far from my mind.

But there were elements of Salmon's style that really caught my attention. For example, I did like the way the narrative interspersed what was really supposed to have happened to Everett with his fantasies to fill in details as he would have liked them to have been. So often a writer takes the omniscient approach of describing what happens 'off scene' as if the main characters had access to this perfect version of events. Salmon's method was both witty and created plausibility to a somewhat far fetched sequence.

Sadly, and most importantly, I never really cared much for his protagonist or the histories of supporting characters that he retells. I was indifferent to his plight and ultimately found his coffee story forgettable. It didn't have to be - there was plenty of 'concept' to have made a gripping novel but weirdly Salmon's immediate style made the book drag for me and I took far longer to complete it than I would have expected.

Hopefully he's a writer that will be willing to go back to the drawing board because if he gets his elements in order the next book could be great!
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