My Year at the Good Bean Cafe

Fiction - Tall Tale
250 Pages
Reviewed on 05/02/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

My Year at the Good Bean Café by EA Luetkemeyer is a work of literary fiction that teases its readers with its synchronicities and coincidences. When Adrian Lomachenko decides to quit the well-paying high life of his financial career in San Francisco and settle down to write in the quaint, quiet, artistic community of Jacksonville, Oregon, his primary task is to come up with a suitable idea for his first novel. As a man who has been the subject of unlikely and inexplicable events in his personal life, he determines that he will write one short story every month of the coming year that deals with the unusual and mysterious events that happen in people’s lives. Using interviews with the many local characters in the region as his inspiration and his muse called Miranda, he sets about putting together this literary work. Basing himself at the local eatery, the Good Bean Café, Adrian will find himself drawn into a tangled web of stories that somehow seem inextricably linked one to the other.

Although My Year at the Good Bean Café is essentially a collection of short stories, due to their coincidences and synchronicities, readers will make correlations that give the work a solidity as a whole that one wouldn’t normally find in a collection. Author EA Luetkemeyer employs several techniques to make one feel a part of Adrian Lomachenko’s exploration of the human condition. His personalizing of the reader is not something I’ve come across before but, as a literary device, it does draw the reader in and make the stories seem like a fireside chat with the characters. Although some of the tales may seem beyond inexplicable and more in the realm of fantasy, the author has an innate ability to convince you that even if these events didn’t happen, the characters themselves are convinced they did occur. As with any collection, there will be personal favorites amongst the twelve tales and, for me, my favorite narrative was November’s Ten Thousand Hours in Shadowland which examines the idea that great talent is sometimes nurtured outside the earthly realms of time and space, before being again released into the world. I found this premise fascinating. All the stories are great though and readers will find themselves chuckling and nodding at some of the mystifying synchronicities that appear. I loved this read and can highly recommend it.

Shrabastee Chakraborty

Adrian Lomachenko is no stranger to unfathomable events, so much so that he takes them in his stride. When his chosen career path directly opposes his heart’s desire, he quits his job and proceeds to write a book. The Good Bean Café in Jacksonville becomes his favorite haunt. In his search for inexplicability and oddities, he decides to cultivate the enigmatic inhabitants of the town, many of whom also frequent the café. With inspiration from his stuffed monkey-turned-muse, Miranda, he recounts twelve unique stories, one for each month. My Year at the Good Bean Café by EA Luetkemeyer chronicles this eventful period in Adrian’s life.

I love EA Luetkemeyer's story within a story structure and I became so engrossed with Adrian’s narrative that, in my mind, he and Luetkemeyer became the same person. So much so, that I started sharing unforeseen and unpredictable adventures with them. Similar to the genre of magical realism, bizarre events are periodically punctuated by an otherwise regular life. These occurrences, albeit recognized as extraordinary, are expected and even welcomed by the characters. The twelve stories are loosely interlinked, with the characters from one narrative frequently gate-crashing another. Much like Adrian, I would be dumbfounded to find a familiar name in a different setting until the whole community of Jacksonville seems to become a single living unit.

Stories such as The Two Wives of Frederico Ricci and Ten Thousand Hours in Shadowland had a joyful vibe, while Born Again and The Migration of Plastic Pink Flamingos possessed an inherent sadness. The October story, Travelling Man, came with a disturbingly dark undertone. Becoming Nobody was the most thought-provoking story I have read in a while. It would be difficult to name a particular story as my favorite since each touched my heart and made a lasting impact. I recommend My Year at the Good Bean Cafe to anyone who loves magical realism, especially those who appreciate Haruki Murakami’s works.

Bernadette Longu

My Year at the Good Bean Café by E.A. Luetkemeyer involves the main character Adrian Lomachenko who has had a somewhat unusual life. Adrian writes about unlikely and inexplicable stories and events. The author has used the small town of Jacksonville, Oregon, and the Good Bean Café as the setting for the twelve stories. Adrian labels them by months, starting with January and ending with December. This book catches the reader's imagination and interest from the first page of the first story and it does not let the reader stop reading until the very last page. Each story is a tale of wonder, intrigue, amazement, and disbelief that such things can happen. E.A. Luetkemeyer has a unique way of keeping the reader's attention and they are not aware of it until the very last page, which is such a surprise that it leaves one with a smile.

My Year at the Good Bean Café by E.A. Luetkemeyer is well worth reading, not once but at least three times more as it reaches into the hearts of readers who can relate to some of the stories and who will smile at others. The quotes from famous people at the beginning of each story are most apt and give just a hint of what is to come. The conclusion of the book is such a surprise and I found myself smiling and wondering what will happen next to the various characters, especially those who state categorically what is going to happen to them. Thank you to the author for a wonderful read, especially the cover and the ending. It will make the reader think about the unexplained things that happen in their life. An enjoyable and excellent read which made me think and go over unexpected and unexplained things that happened in my own life.

Helen Huini

What if you went to sleep as a prisoner and woke up as a warden? What if you went to sleep as an octogenarian and woke up as a crawling toddler? My Year At the Good Bean Cafe by EA Luetkemeyer is Adrian’s narration of unlikely and inexplicable events and how they impact our lives. Determined to create stories from his observations, Adrian goes to the Good Bean Café every day, where he types what he sees, hears, and thinks into his laptop. He expects that every month will bring him something unique to write about; events or experiences that would never have been possible.

EA Luetkemeyer begins the narration of My Year At the Good Bean Cafe with a direct address to the reader, making the entire reading experience appear like a conversation between two intimate friends. The conversations between the characters were believable, and it felt like they were real people talking to each other. I also liked how Luetkemeyer wrote the book from multiple perspectives. His clever switch from the first-person narrator to Adrian, the protagonist, helped me understand how they were connected and what was going on in each of their lives. The addition of humorous and philosophical quotes at the beginning of every chapter gave me something to think about and proved entertaining too. The book is well written and easy to follow, and suitable for readers interested in triggering their minds regarding their reactions to unlikely events, such as when a corpse falls out of the sky, leaving no traces of its point of origin after disappearing for seven years.

Rabia Tanveer

My Year at the Good Bean Café by EA Luetkemeyer follows Adrian Lomachenko as he faces new challenges. Adrian used to be a high roller in the financial district of San Francisco, but he left that cushy life behind for his passion - writing. He wanted to be an author, so he packed his bags and moved to Jacksonville, Oregon. There he pursued his dream to write a novel. Sitting at the Good Bean Café every morning, Adrian met people who intrigued him and made him want to pour words onto paper. His muse, the pretty Miranda, appears in the prologue. A total of 12 characters compelled him to write their stories. However, the challenge was that he had to complete his book within a year. Would Adrian be able to do it or was he setting himself up for failure?

Adrian was such an unusual yet strong character. He had a completely successful career, having graduated Magna Cum Laude from Berkeley. He had a great job and lived a high-spending life, but he was unsatisfied. He dared to leave that success behind and chase after his dream. EA Luetkemeyer’s writing style is comprehensive, direct, and devoid of any kind of fluff. This approach not only made the narrative fast-paced but also made it fun for the reader. The first-person narrative made the tone of the novel personal, so I enjoyed it more. I loved his reaction to Miranda and how they clicked. The story within the story was complex and a little eclectic, but perfect. I loved the journey and would recommend My Year at the Good Bean Café to anyone who loves complex stories that beg to be unraveled.