Hell’s Half Acre and Starbucks

I've been carrying around a burnt-orange galley of Will Christopher Baer's Hell's Half Acre (one of the MacAdam Cage books that DIDN'T borrow its title from this website) for months, reading passages here and there, digesting it in a nonlinear sort of fashion. How else to treat a novel by a graduate of the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa?

Anyway, there's a section in which the narrator inadvertently bumps into a communist who was drinking a Starbucks latte, causing the hot drink to spill all over the commie's clothing:

You motherfucker. What kind of communist drinks a mocha with whipped cream?

The guy moans. I can't help it, he says. I'm a victim of advertising. I walk past a Starbucks and I become a robot. Their mochas are divine.

Me, too. I've been going to Starbucks every day for like two weeks, devouring White Chocolate Mochas like Jared devours Teriyaki Chicken subs at Subway. At my usual Starbucks, there's a guy who looks like James Bond. That's his job, actually. To look like James Bond. He's a professional James Bond imitator. He goes to that Starbucks every day he's not working--for years he's been going there. I know this because I used to work at a health food store by the Starbucks, and he'd come in talking on his cellphone and buying a Balance bar, every day, not really looking at anyone but expecting to be looked at. Someone should write a book about that guy or at least use him as a character in fiction. You're welcome to use the idea, in fact. Just like you're welcome to call your book "Identity Theory."

-Matt Borondy

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