There’s something about the way Americans clutch their morning coffees like dying soldiers clinging onto life. It reminds me of a novelist I once knew; a fellow called Raymond Bower. He used to say that his aim as a writer was to use words the way that coffee uses caffeine. I never quite understood what he meant by this. I can only presume that he wanted to write prose that animated his readers; texts that they would cling to in times of stress; stories that they would turn to first thing in the morning.
The reality, unsurprisingly, is that Raymond Bower’s books were insipid things. They tasted like orange juice that had been left too long in the sun. One did not consume them thirstily, but sipped them anxiously, wondering whether they were worth pursuing to the end. Mid-way through one invariably decided that enough was enough, and tossed them aside.