Love. This is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Before the coffee gets cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi. Love in all its forms: romantic and familiar, long-standing or still growing.
As human beings, social relationships are our primary need, but sometimes we take them for granted. We think that there may always be another time to be able to say what we want, only to realize too late that that moment has passed.
This book gives the opportunity to reflect on missed moments, on the importance of expressing our feelings when we still have the opportunity. Because we are not allowed the opportunity to go back in time to remedy our failure to act.
In Japan there is a special coffee shop. It has been open for more than a hundred years and a thousand legends circulate about it. It is said that after entering it you are no longer the same, that by drinking coffee it is possible to relive the moment of your life in which you made the wrong choice, you said the only word that it was better not to say, you left go away the person who should not be lost. It is said that with a simple gesture everything can change. But there is a rule to respect, a fundamental rule: you absolutely must finish the coffee before it has cooled down.
Not everyone has the courage to enter the cafeteria, but someone decides to challenge fate and find out what can happen. Someone sits in a chair with a steaming cup in front of it. Fumiko, who could not keep the boy she loved next to her. Kotake, who along with the memories of her husband believes she has also lost herself. Hirai, who has never been completely honest with her sister. Finally Kei, who tries to gather all the strength she has within her to be a good mother.
Each of them has a regret. Each of them feels a painful memory resurfacing. But everyone discovers that the past is not important, because it cannot be changed. What matters is the present we have in our hands. When you can still decide everything and do it right. Life, like coffee, should be enjoyed sip by sip, capturing every moment.
HERE ARE THE RULES TO FOLLOW:
- The only people you can meet are those who have entered the café;
- Whatever is done in the past will not change the present;
- You have to sit only and exclusively on the chair of the woman in the white dress, if she tries to sit down by force you are cursed;
- When you travel in time you can only stay in that chair, getting up means going back to your time;
- Do not let the coffee cool for any reason.
A chat about the book
With all these rules, why would a person want to travel through time? Would you be interested in doing it?
The first impression is that the story is just a little crazy, there doesn’t seem to be a real reason for wanting to travel through time under those conditions.
Going on with the reading, however, we realize that the most important change is not that of the course of events. This is because, in any case, it is how we decide to face what happens that can change our path. We return a little to the theme we dealt with in the last Literary Chat Newsletter: we must remember the value of our time.
At this point, the change of the present becomes secondary to the time travel. Rather, the focus shifts to how our attitude can change the future thanks to the extra moments we take. Thanks to that moment that we decide to dedicate ourselves to the other.
For me, this is the strongest message that is conveyed in this book: we value every moment.
We don’t have the ability to time travel, we can’t go back to ask for that extra explanation or express our feelings. Our life flows on a straight line in which we can only go in one direction, in order not to risk losing even a moment of this path, however, we must also have the courage to take risks. To expose ourselves and to make ourselves defenseless by putting pride aside, trying to assess what our priorities are.
It hadn’t happened for a long time that a book made me so excited, perhaps because it touched naked nerves, managing to express in words concepts that I had been trying to elaborate for a while. What I am sure of is that once again the Japanese fiction manages to play chords that all the others struggle to even reach.
Something about time travel
I love time travel and I like to discover how this theme is treated by different authors and touches on different genres. For this reason, I cannot fail to have a chat about how the theme of time travel was treated Before the coffee gets cold.
It is certainly one of the most particular systems that I have ever faced and with all the rules and limitations that the author has included, I think it is the most realistic of those I have read so far. Of course, it’s not a science fiction book, so it’s not really good to compare it to my latest time travel readings.
On the contrary, however, it reminded me very much of Takuji Ichikawa’s “Be With You”. I find it very interesting to see how in Japanese literature time travel is often linked to very human themes, such as feelings and relationships. Now I’m curious to retrieve a Japanese science fiction about time travel, to see what the focus is on in that case.
Do you have any reading tips for me?
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