Work Title: "A cafe is not a sentimental place."
Work Author(s): Heather Shaw
Byline: Heather Shaw
Aharon Appelfeld is the author of more than thirty works of fiction and nonfiction. In A Table for One: Under the Light of Jerusalem (Toby Press, 978-1-59264-197-0, translated by Aloma Halter) Appelfeld leaves behind the themes of horror and displacement that made his name internationally, to write about the cafes of his childhood, the cafes where he wrote his novels, the cafes that were "a port to which all gates of the imagination are open."
I have lived in Jerusalem since the age of fourteen, for almost sixty years. When I ask myself where I've spent the most time and the happiest hours throughout these years, I have to admit that it's in cafes. A cafe is my lookout, my place of observation; on certain days my refuge. In periods when I'm inspired, it's the place where I'm best able to concentrate. My room at home is quiet and secluded, but sometimes it's hard to concentrate there, or I get lazy, distracted, my mind wanders and I end up sitting on the sofa and leafing through a book.
What is it about a cafe that makes it such a wonderful place to concentrate? Perhaps here it should be said---most cafes nowadays are not so much cafes but more like large, crowded spaces invaded with violent music. Don't try to find any quiet there, or something mysterious, or that...