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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.