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Café Olé: Too Hot to Handle

edited by Sarah Crabtree

(Independent Persons Press paperback, 226 pages, £4.99.)

Review by Gary Couzens

cover scanCafé Olé is an anthology in a good cause, with all proceeds going to Action Against Allergy. It comprises twenty-six stories each linked in some way by the theme -- or maybe just a mention! -- of coffee. To get the vested interests out of the way, my name is on one of them.

The contributors are a mixture of well-known names and unknowns, originals and reprints. Highlights will no doubt differ according to personal taste, but for me they included Fiona Curnow's "Swustersunu", a family scene with considerable undercurrents, and Rosanne Rabinowitz's witty "Tasting the Clouds". Marion Arnott has two stories here, both reprints, and rather shorter and less dark than usual for her. To my mind, the best was "Capuccino", a study of a woman on a date with an Italian man. The other is "There and Back Again", a comic study of a family holiday. Hilary Wade's "Single Shot Espresso" is an entertaining take-off of Charlie's Angels. Other stories are rather minor and there were two I actively disliked, one which seemed to be an exercise in mocking the afflicted and another a bog-standard horror piece that sets up its characters so that the author can dump on them from a very great height. So an uneven anthology then, but the best stories here make it worthwhile. And it is in a good cause.

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