Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ground Up - Michael Idov

I keep track of the books I'm reading and the long list of books that I want to read on goodreads.com. But, I need to keep better track of where I get my recommendations, so I can figure out if there are consistently reliable sources, and others that I need to just toss aside. This book came from some unknown source and sounded promising. It's the story of an aimess intellectual couple and their quest to run a hip coffee shop in Manhattan. The book is based on the author's real-life foray into cafe ownership. As someone who has always romanticized the notion of owning a cafe (I mean, who hasn't), preferably with a small bookstore attached, I was curious to see how this one would play out. From choosing the name of the shop (nothing with a pun) to hiring "coffee artists" to figuring out which pastries to sell and what kind of vibe to put forth, I found Idov's dialogue and story telling style for the most part witty (in a Juno, if not realistic, way). But, the characters themselves were simply not likeable. The couple doesn't act like much of a team, and they take themselves way too seriously for the reader to ever truly root for their success. Of course, that might be part of the point. The main characters cannot be bothered to find money important, so the mere fact that they've set off to achieve a capitalist's dream (complete with competing Cup a Joe across the street) solidifies the satire and ensures their ultimate demise. This story is the classic picture of urban malaise. And while it is not as annoying to me as suburban malaise, I found it mostly tedious and uninspiring.

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