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Issue 41 - Findingfellowshipincafésociety

Whisky Magazine Issue 41
July 2004

 

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Findingfellowshipincafésociety

JeffersonChasestopsforadrinkatCarsonMcCullers'SadCafé

WhenCarsonMcCullerswroteTheBalladoftheSadCaféin1941,shewas24andhadalreadyseenenoughoflife'shardknockstoknowwhereofshewrote.

BornLulaCarsonSmithinColumbus,Georgia,McCullershadalreadysufferedthefirstofaseriesofstrokesthatwouldkeephersemi-paralysedandinpainfortherestofherdays.

Shewasalsointhemidstofanon-again-off-againmarriagethatwouldleadtoafailedsuicideattemptonherpart–andasuccessfuloneonherhusband's.

Asmallmiraclethenthatshewasabletowringameasureoftemporaryjoyoutofherwork.

SadCafétellsthestoryofadrinkingestablishmentinadesultorySoutherntown.TheheroineisAmeliaEvans,animpecunious,tough-as-nailsdivorcée,whoownsthevillagegeneralstore,servesasacountrydoctorand–mostimportantly,runsthelocalstill.

Solitaryandself-contained,MissAmelia'slifetakesanunexpectedturnwhenahunchbackedcousinshowsupandunlocksthematernalinstinctsinherheart.

Thatinturninspireshertobringsomecheertotheotherwisedrabhamlet.

Thewhiskeytheydrankthatevening(twobigbottlesofit)isimportant…Perhapswithoutittherewouldneverhavebeenacafé.FortheliquorofMissAmeliahasaspecialqualityofitsown.Itiscleanandsharponthetongue,butoncedownamanitglowsinsidehimforalongtimeafterward.Andthatisnotall.Itisknownthatifamessageiswrittenwithlemonjuiceonacleansheetofpapertherewillbenosignofit.

Butifthepaperisheldforamomenttothefirethenthelettersturnbrownandthemeaningbecomesclear.Imaginethatthewhiskeyisthefireandthatthemessageisthatwhichisknownonlyinthesoulofaman…

McCullerscouldhavebeendescribingherownprose:hard,cleanandrevealing...

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