Café Stories by David Makin (Book review)
Café Stories – There is nothing like how a simple cup of coffee can have such power to be a catalyst for some simple socialization and interaction between people. And when you have it at your favourite public place – whether it be a Starbucks, a Tim Hortons or a small independent coffee shop – that cup of coffee can also be a catalyst for some interesting conversations.
Local author David Makin has had his share of cups of coffee in his share of public cafes in downtown Montreal over the past 40 years, not to mention his share of conversations between sips of his favourite types of brewed java. And he has shared some of his favourite coffee klatches in his latest book Café Stories.
The book is a collection of autobiographical stories of 40 years’ worth of strolling along St. Catherine Street and stopping off at his favourite coffee places to grab a hot cup of coffee after doing some shopping, walking or catching a concert. Some of the places are familiar (like Café Depot) and some are long lost relics of the pre-Starbucks era, such as Le Den and Café St. Catherine.
But the common thread of all the stories in the book are of the conversations Makin has had – or has eavesdropped – while enjoying that cup of coffee. They range from a post-concert review with his brother Robert of a show by Styx at the Montreal Forum; a chat between a visiting Vermont couple trying to find where they could partake in Montreal’s best hot dog; a gossipy chat between two young women over a home date gone wrong (which involved a jealous ex-boyfriend); or the career of former Montreal Canadiens goalie (and Hall of Famer) Gump Worsley, who had the distinction of being the last NHL goalie to wear a face mask.
The stories are quite well told and entertaining to read (and how Makin has such a photographic-type memory to remember these conversations practically word-for-word is quite astounding). As well, he exhibits quite the penchant for trivia (listing some of the Montreal Forum’s more memorable moments), a unique way of showing gratitude (check out his story of how he thanked a very helpful salesclerk named Sharron at the Delilah accessory store at the Alexis Nihon Plaza), as well as his knowledge of how to make different types of coffee beverages (which can be quite helpful if you want to make your own cup of cappuccino or latte).
So if you like a good cup of coffee in a comforting café setting, or enjoy a good chat with a friend or companion over that cup of java, then bring Café Stories with you. It’s a perfect compliment for your coffee break as much as that pastry or muffin, or that right dash of cream and sugar You’ll discover what can transpire for the better over that simple cup (or mug, or demi-tasse) of that universally popular hot beverage.