In Which The Author Barely Talks About The Coffee
Follow author Tom Pappalardo on a black coffee tour of cafes, diners, and convenience stores, as he travels the potholed side streets and witch-cursed back roads of Western Massachusetts. Grab a table and sit. Nod and smile at whatever the waitress brings you. Does it taste like a 9-volt battery dipped in old, hot Coke? Good. You’re in the right place.
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“Hilarious shorts… a consistent supply of laughs.”
— Publishers Weekly
At times, it’s laugh out loud funny, and at other times, you are like what the f—.”
— Goodreads reviewer
“Beautifully illustrated… The book gave me distinct pleasure and joy.”
— The Bill Dwight Show
Full Reviews and Interviews
These hilarious shorts are a perfect snarkfest, combining people watching and café criticism with abundant humor. Pappalardo visits coffee emporiums in Northampton, Amherst, and other towns in western Massachusetts to sample brews ranging from fabulous to putrid and to jot his impressions of baristas and customers. He ranges from local coffeehouses to Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks locations, going so far as to reference the noncontroversy of the 2015 red holiday cups; he even experiences coffee in his local public library. In one riff, he rails against the ludicrousness of far-distant coffee pickup counters; elsewhere, he visits a Dunkin’ Donuts dominated by painful country music. Pappalardo’s enjoyment of doughnuts, pie, and other comestibles adds delight to the collection, as does his recording of overheard conversations and scenes. This collection is good for a consistent supply of laughs, regardless of whether readers live in Massachusetts or drink coffee.
– Publishers Weekly
“The laughs-per-dollar ratio is well in your favor, Dear Reader.”
– A.C., Amazon review
“My favorite comedic author in the world. Brilliant.”
– P.S., Amazon review
“…a laugh out loud love letter to the Valley.”
– Amazon review
“Tom is a gifted observationalist — a bit biting and sarcastic in his views of the world, perhaps, but he has a keen eye for overheard conversations.”
– Kevin Hodgson
RADIO INTERVIEW – “Not a coffee connoisseur, just a connoisseur of the human experience, chronicling the darker end of it, like a black coffee in and of itself, i guess.” I sat down with Monte Belmonte at WRSI to chat about One More Cup Of Coffee. There’s a real leg-room issue in that studio, believe-you-me. But I’m not complaining. I mean, I am technically actually exactly complaining. But it’s always fun to listen to Monte turn my rambling into a coherent radio segment. AUDIO MAGIC. Featuring a reading from “Cash Only” (The Whole Donut, Holyoke) and “Varying Degrees Of Ass-Hardship” (The Roost, Northampton).
“…(a) keen comment on our caffeinated culture…sketching out the subcultural infrastructure in the collegetown-pockmarked Pioneer Valley. A great read.”
– A.D., Amazon review
“…tangents of surreal imagery, social commentary, and self-awareness brought to life with a natural, personable, and comedic narrative voice.”
– Amazon review
In “One More Cup of Coffee,” Pappalardo, of Northampton, has created a hybrid book that’s not easy to classify. It’s part review of coffee from cafes, diners, donut shops and other places around the Valley, part journal in which he records his observations of those places (including snippets of overheard conversations), and part meditation on his general alienation (though that’s delivered with a good helping of irony).
It’s mostly a droll and deadpan (and sometimes snarky) trip, where you can learn about his preferred places to eat and drink, like Jake’s in Northampton (“I hope someday somebody holds my wake here”), as well as the places and things he’s less enthused about. Pappalardo, who’s also a guitarist, is not exactly a fan of singer-songwriters, as it turns out.
His vignettes of the odd behavior and conversations he comes across make for some of the more entertaining reading, like the “coffee date” a man and woman appear to be having at the Cup and Top Cafe in Florence, where the guy monopolizes the conversation: “The man keeps talking. … It’s been nearly fifteen minutes now, and she’s only peppered in a few scant ‘mm-hmmms.’ This is a terrible thing to earwitness.”
Along the way, Pappalardo also describes the weird vibes that can abound in places where many people (including him) eat and drink by themselves while staring at their phones, laptops or notebooks. That atmosphere can make him a bit paranoid; he imagines someone swiping the money he leaves for his meal on a cafe serving counter, making him look like he’s trying to skip out on his bill.
“It’s an irrational fear, like when I used to be worried about being accused of stealing my own clothes out a laundromat dryer. I am under constant surveillance. People are watching me, waiting for me to step out of line so they can judge me.”
Oh, he’s also got some nice black and white sketches in the book of the places he visits.
– Daily Hampshire Gazette
“…often full of rage at the base foolishness of our entire culture. …wickedly brutal assessments of the most mundane or overwrought conversations.”
– Take Magazine
“At times, it’s laugh out loud funny, and at other times, you are like what the f—.”
— GoodReads review
“Although the book is centered on Pappalardo’s visits to various coffee venues around Western Massachusetts, it really isn’t about coffee itself much at all. It’s more about the author’s wry — and mostly hilarious — observations about people and life while sitting in these community establishments. Think Holden Caulfield of “Catcher in the Rye” crossed with Agent Dale Cooper from “Twin Peaks” and you’ll get the picture.” Read more…
– George Lenker, masslive.com & The Republican
“One More Cup of Coffee has not made me a better person, not by a long shot, but it has made me a more entertained bad person, and perhaps a somewhat better regarded one at that.”
– B.J. Amazon review
“If you’ve ever eavesdropped on people at a trendy cafe, a roadside diner, or some weird hipster blend of both, this is the book for you.”
– P.O. Amazon review
“…surreal imagery, social commentary, and self-awareness brought to life with a natural, personable, and comedic narrative voice.”
– Amazon review
“I was going to write a letter to your publisher asking them what they were thinking by publishing your book. I am not the least surprised that it was self published (I nearly laughed aloud), because no professional team would approve this book.”
– J.R. email to author
PODCAST INTERVIEW – “Beautifully illustrated …The book gave me distinct pleasure and joy.” I sat down with Bill Dwight and Jaz Tupelo of The Bill Dwight Show for a rambling conversation about the book, the Valley, and I dunno, Stop & Shop for some reason. A fair amount of giggling. This segment features readings of “Sack Stabber” (Esselon, Hadley) and “37 Minutes” (The Yellow Sofa, Northampton).
Self-styled humorist and cartoonist Tom Pappalardo records his impressions of the quality of coffee and at the same time he also judges the patrons in various coffee houses and fast-food sites across collegiate Western Massachusetts. While he does comment on the caliber of the coffee, his biting comments regarding the patrons of these establishments reflect a rather acerbic personality. From his sardonic throne, he criticizes the old folks, is annoyed by children and their caring mothers, scorns the college females at their computers, mocks the youths, and laughs at the baristas. Apparently this is the type of mocking vision enjoyed and applauded by the youth of this country. He portrays the customers with a glacial indifference and imagines the worst in them. In displaying his somber, off-putting mood, he employs the descriptor “goddamned” about as frequently as the “F” word. While he likes his donuts and pies, a mood enhancer along with an antacid added with the sugar might evoke some more genial perceptions. The too few black and white sketches hidden between the written pages describe a more gracious story than the caustic wit. This coffee venture would do better as a graphic book. — Aron Row, San Francisco Book Review
“I don’t drink coffee but I assume it’s bitter and delicious, just like this book.”
– S.N., Amazon review
“…it takes a certain kind of mind and philosophical approach to life to enjoy this book to the last drop.”
– P.N., Amazon review
“It’s a funny book. You should read it.”
– Amazon review
Scene: Busy coffeeshop just after dusk. Location: Northampton, MA. In walks a bedraggled, white-bearded, black coffee-swilling, grump-meister named Tom Pappalardo. His laptop is scratched, stickered, and held together with a clamp. He looks like Liam Neeson about to do someone some very serious damage. “I used to be a semi-professional curmudgeon,” he says, “but now it’s more of a persona. I think I’m actually much nicer than I used to be.”
Pappalardo, an Easthampton, MA-based graphic designer, musician, and longtime comic book artist (Everything You Didn’t Ask For, 2014), has written, designed, and, through his new press, Object Publishing, self-published One More Cup of Coffee (2016), an observational compendium of his visits to coffee shops throughout Western Massachusetts. The book really doesn’t have anything to do with coffee, except insofar it’s the liquid folks gather around to talk life, death, and pretty much everything else in between. Tom visits these spots, gets himself a cup of their darkest coffee, sets his back to the wall and just listens. The locales range from classic New England coffee shops like Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters, to supermarkets (Trader Joe’s), to the most ubiquitous of middle-America coffee sellers like Dunkin’ Donuts and a Starbucks inside Barnes and Noble.
“It came about as a way for me to get out of the house,” Pappalardo explains. “I made a list of places, some of which I’d been a regular at for years, then others – hey how come I don’t go there?” He developed a following writing weekly Facebook updates of his observations, which became about 90% of the book, “though,” he promises, “the book is much better edited.” The book’s subtitle, “In Which the Author Barely Talks About the Coffee” was by design. “A lot of the Facebook fans thought they were café reviews. I’ve lived in the area for 20 years, I knew a lot of the owners. I wanted it to be clear that this wasn’t an extended Yelp review.”
Instead, Pappalardo reviewed the customers inside the shops, telling their stories through his story, which is most often full of rage at the base foolishness of our entire culture. With lines like “I’m trying to be less of an asshole,” it’s clear that Pappalardo enjoys being a character in his own book. It also allows him to offer up some wickedly brutal assessments of the most mundane or overwrought conversations.
Behind Pappalardo’s umbrage is the sense that we’ve lost touch with being, and feeling, part of a larger community. “Even folks our age or older are blindered and not mindful of what’s going on around them,” he says.” A big part of this book was a mindfulness exercise. I’m going to a place just to observe. I try to make it as funny as I can, because that’s the genre I work in.”
Though it seems the antithesis of his old-school coffee shop haunting, Pappalardo also made One More Cup of Coffee available on Kindle, a move that strips it of its design, physicality, and character. It’s a sign of the times, one he acknowledges with a wince. “I’m more interested in the object of the book,” Pappalardo explains. “I just wanted to make a nice book. It’s the same with albums vs MP3s. I’m certainly from that era where I remember growing up and buying a cassette at the mall. You’d sit and listen to it and read along with all the lyrics. You build a connection to the album. I’m also a graphic designer; you can’t have an album without a cover. So yeah, to me this is the closest I get to art, whereas the Kindle version is the raw data. If someone wants to consume that, that’s fine—I’m not going to stop them. But the book is way cooler.” – Take Magazine
“A grumpy love letter to the contemporary culture and coffee shops of our little Happy Valley.”
– H.N., Amazon review
“A fresh-out-of-the-oven slice of modern day America.”
– J.M., Amazon review
“sharply written and very, very funny observations”
– B.L., Amazon review
“Tom’s prose has punch (or maybe a jolt of caffeine)”
– K.H., Amazon review
“…a grumpy, funny, kind, snarky, intelligent read.”
– P.N., Amazon review
“I took a chance on this mostly because I like coffee. I was really disappointed at first because the whole thing tastes terrible. I couldn’t determine what the blend was. I kept thinking- ‘Where are these beans from?’ Well, let me tell you, these beans are from Tom Pappalardo. These are Tom’s beans. And they’re not for oral comsumption. Take Tom’s beans from your mouth.”
– A.R., Amazon review
First edition: December, 2016 | Paperback: 150 pages, 30 illustrations
Publisher: Object Publishing | ISBN: 978-0-9983278-0-8
Humor — Essays — Coffee — Massachusetts — Northampton — Pioneer Valley