Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi and Geoffrey Trousselot (Translator)

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

‘Before the Coffee Gets Cold’ is set in a small basement café, which feels very intimate and cozy. It involves themes of magic realism and time travel. It’s a collection of stories of four café visitors who want to travel in time either to attempt fixing the past to decide on the present. The café acts as a medium to time travel, and there are various rules one must follow to travel back or forward in time.

The four stories are said to be interconnected. However, except for the café and the café staff, there isn’t much common in the stories. Each story is personal to the characters. They are present in each other stories, but they don’t participate. The mere presence of the other characters cannot be regarded as an interconnection. The Stories overall are well written. I specifically liked the first and the fourth story. The first story sets the theme of the book. Hence, it’s intriguing to see what are the possibilities explored and how time travel happens. The other two stories are also interesting, but there isn’t any surprise element to them. They are based on the same template as the first one. The last story involves traveling to the future and is probably the best story. It not only has something different than the other three stories. But there’s more depth in terms of characters and emotions. The last story made the book worthwhile for me.

It’s a well-written book. However, it’s very straightforward. In the first three stories, the visitors travel back in time. And their past is introduced first. There’s no intriguing element or any layer to the past. One of the rules is that the present cannot be changed. Because of this, there’s nothing to expect from their time travel. If this rule was introduced indirectly instead of stating it verbatim, it would have added some depth to their purpose of traveling back in time.

“I was so absorbed in the things that I couldn’t change, I forgot the most important thing.”

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