Café Purgatorio

By Frederick Mark Kramer

At the funeral of his old friend Jeff, who has committed suicide, Simeon, a poet in New York City, reencounters his old lover Liliana, who had also been Jeff’s girlfriend and whom he has not seen for thirty years. Over drinks at the bar of the nearby Café Purgatorio, a long conversation ensues, trying to make sense of their three youths and what followed from them, again and again twisting together and pulling apart the circular trail of their steps and missteps. The more obsessively these weltering stories deflect “the one deep thought"—which, perhaps, it finally faces in an unforgettable, heartbreaking revelation—the more it suggests a luminous ground independent of their struggles and regrets.

Café Purgatorio is a love song to life: its aspirations, falling-shorts, and haunting losses. It is also a intimate, moonlit portrait of New York City itself in its beauty, its humanity, and its terror.