THE VAN GOGH CAFE by Cynthia Rylant
Kirkus Star


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Scenes from a cafe in Flowers, Kansas, where ""magic"" mingles with everyday life. Apart from the cafe itself, there are two fixed points in the book: the owner, Marc, and his daughter, Clara, 10. Everything around them is in an impressionistic state of flux, and enchantment comes in a succession of gusts that slowly gather momentum, become a mistral, and then evaporate. Lightning strikes the cafe and in the next few weeks the food cooks itself to perfection, while Marc starts writing poems that foretell the future; an old film star makes a quiet entrance and a peaceful final exit; a writer finds something like inspiration in the setting. These are peculiar episodes, described in fine-tuned prose, with every description, rhythm, and syntax positioned to create, overall, a perfectly smooth surface, along which the narrator glides like a figure-skater: always a little distant from the action, constantly reflecting on what constitutes magic and what makes a story. This little book never stops rushing forward. Every chapter points to the next, in which something even more wonderful may happen. The present-tense narrative creates a sense of the future; it becomes the tense of excited anticipation. Rylant (Mr. Putter and Tabby Bake the Cake, 1994, etc.) has no need for a car crash or someone jumping off a bridge to entertain; this one does it with the light-filled strokes of ordinary events.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0152057501
Page count: 53pp
Publisher: Harcourt Brace