Wednesday, October 24, 2007

coffee & chocolate & junot diaz

it's cold and rainy. i'm trying to wean off my caffeine intake lately. i usually drink one eli special a day (banana mocha or cappuccino, locally roasted beans) but after reading about some espresso places in the city, i am jonesing for something new: cafe grumpy. check out their 2 locations in chelsea & greenpoint. besides the very cool name, i like their business goals:

above, grumpkin the pumpkin.

Quality fresh coffee and tea without the attitude.
Coffee beans with roast dates not expiration dates.
Stop by for espresso that will make you happy.

another perk caught my eye in their recent newsletter... chocolate!

Taza Chocolates-- "Stone ground, organic, old style, single origin (Juan del Rosario farm, Dominican Republic)... plus, great packaging makes them the perfect gift."

which brings me to my other current fascination: junot diaz. he's a contemporary dominican-american writer, who moved to new jersey with his family at age 6. he waxes poetic on the rutgers experience and towns in jersey like paterson and wildwood, one of the many reasons i love his work. his writing is a mix of spanish, english, obscure cultural references, jersey quirks, comics, immigration and alienation. he wrote his first book of short stories, drown, published in 1996. but i'd go straight for his second fiction work, the brief wondrous life of oscar wao, just published last month. i'm mesmerized on every page. (i had read an excerpt this summer in the new yorker.) this book shoots right up to my top 3.

i read an interview with junot on bookslut. read & get hooked. here's one question that stuck with me:

Q: Oscar's life on College Ave seems so real, I guess more so for me also since it's around where I grew up. Have you spent much time at Rutgers?

JD: Oh, I'm a Rutgers grad. I'm a Rutgers boy. I went to Rutgers from 1988 to 1992, a long time ago, but that was before colleges turned into corporations. It was madness. They hadn't figured out yet to lock us down, and I swear to God that things were as crazy as they are now, but I was like, "Kids, man, you have no fucking idea how over-patrolled you guys are." They didn't even notice us, dude. College was like some empty space. I was always obsessed with Rutgers, and I'm kind of like the Dominican version of Sonny Werblin, you know? Any chance I get, I fucking talk about Rutgers. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, I will not lie. From the neighborhood I came from, I was literally intellectually starving. I was an incredibly bright kid outside of Perth Amboy, and going to Rutgers was sort of like someone who never had vitamin C their whole life. They're dying from fucking intellectual scurvy and rickets, and somebody gives them a fucking orange. It changed my life. There was a lot of me wondering what can I pillage from my memory just so I can give Oscar a stage to work on? As much as you ask how much this was real, I feel like I was the set designer in a way. My real life designed the set, but the fiction wrote the script and hired the actors.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

His interview is poetic. I can't wait to read.