One more review of “The End of the Tour”


After months of waiting and anticipation, I finally got to see “The End of the Tour,” the film based on David Lipsky’s book, Although of Course You End up Becoming Yourself, a transcription of his five-day interview with David Foster Wallace at the tail-end of his Infinite Jest book tour. During those months of waiting, I read far too many articles about and reviews of the film. Most of these – even the negative reviews – made me all the more excited to see it; although as I entered the theater, I hoped that all this reading and all the hype didn’t build my expectations too high. I didn’t want to end up disappointed and feeling I had wasted that free movie ticket.

I was not disappointed. On my way out of the theater, I texted my wife, “Such a great film. Loved it!” So, here I will add my thoughts to the myriad others who have already seen and written about the film.

When I first met him, my master’s thesis advisor shared with me a quote from Jean-Luc Godard that stuck with me through the process of writing my thesis and beyond. The quote goes something like this: “When you turn on the camera, the lie begins. But leave it on long enough and the truth comes out.” There could not be a truer statement about “The End of the Tour.”

posterThe film is all about artifice and facade. You have Jason Segal taking on the persona of the literary giant, David Foster Wallace (and giving a damn good performance), who is very aware of the fact that Lipsky’s tape recorder is always running. He watches his words and guards his image, wanting to come across as an “everyday guy.” All the while, he knows that the commercial success has made him anything but an “everyday guy” anymore. Dave (Wallace) is very careful to never let Dave (Lipsky) see too much of his real self.

Then there is Dave Lipsky, played by Jesse Eisenberg, an up-and-comer hoping that this interview with Big Shot David Wallace will rocket his own career into orbit. Part fanboy, part interviewer, Lipsky tries to hide his jealousy of Wallace’s success. He’s the rookie in the big leagues who’s trying to play it cool, even though Dave W (and we) can see right through it.

And yet, the camera is left on just long enough for us to see through the facade and artifice to find something real and true. My favorite quote of Dave (Wallace)’s – and the foundation of my philosophy of literature – is “fiction is about what it means to be a fucking human being.” There are those moments in this film that allow us to see glimpses of the human condition. In all its frailty and self-consciousness and insecurity, we see these two young men for who and what they really are.

These are my favorite moments of the film. The scene when Dave is talking about his crush on Alanis Morissette. The scene when Dave goes back for more food at the convenience store when Dave Lipsky says his expense account will cover their junk food indulgences. And probably my favorite scene when the two Daves are eating McDonald’s burgers in Dave’s living room and Jeeves and Drone (Wallace’s two dogs) are begging for food. Dave tells Jeeves over and over to sit, but the dog just ignores him. There is something so simple, yet so real about that scene. Just two guys shooting the breeze over lousy burgers while trying the fend off a couple of hungry Labradors.

And then the last scene. The one of Dave dancing at the Baptist Church social. Yes, I read the article about how Dave didn’t actually like to dance and how “church” was his code word for his recovery group. But I loved that scene.

See, I wrote my thesis on “Singin’ in the Rain” and Plato’s Cave (not your normal bedfellows, I know). The gist of the paper is that the “Singin’ in the Rain,” like Plato’s Cave, is all about illusion and reality. When the viewer first meets Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Kathy Seldon (Debbie Reynolds), both characters lie about who they are. Don tells the glamorous story on his rise to fame while on the red carpet of his latest premiere; all the while, the viewer sees the truth of his less-than-dignified career. Kathy tells Don about her success on the dramatic stage, but we soon see that she is really just a nightclub showgirl. It is only when the two dance together on the empty soundstage that they are honest with each other.

My point is that dance is one of the few truly honest expressions. You can’t lie while you’re dancing. Which is why I loved the last scene. We finally see the real Dave. Now I know that this probably didn’t really happen, but hear me out. In “The End of the Tour,” we see Dave Wallace’s ongoing struggle with simply being himself. He is on guard every time the tape recorder is on, and when it’s off, he is too overly analytical to know who his true self even is at times. He just wants to be a regular guy, even if that goal is unattainable. But in that final moment, we see regular Dave, dancing and free.

Click here to watch the trailer.


An interesting article that poses lots of questions

This article was posted today on Wallace-l and really struck a chord with me. This topic of Wallace and religion has been simmering for me for quite awhile. Faith and religion, particularly Christianity, are important themes in much of Wallace’s work; although he seems to ask a lot more questions than he attempts to answer. As I continue to read my way through his canon, and as I anxiously await Max’s biography, it is a topic that I think is an important one and I hope to continue to explore it.

What are your thoughts? What role do you see faith, religion, and Christianity playing in Wallace’s writing? What do we know about the role of faith in his own life?

Follow this link, read the article, then share your thoughts.

Guest Post: Paying Attention

Blogger here.  After posting an open invitation for guest posts, I received a number of responses from fellow writers and fans of Wallace.  This piece comes from Jean McEwan, an artist and writer from the UK, and is in response to Lipsky’s Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself.


These pieces were orginally made for Issue 3 of ‘This Is Water’  – a 7 day personal zine about trying to pay attention I make and self publish.

I started ‘This is Water’ ( which of course steals its name from David Foster Wallace’s 2005 Kenyon College speech) in 2010 as an attempt to personally and meaningfully engage with the ideas he talks about in the speech;  the importance of awareness, the difficulty of transcending our ‘natural, hard-wired default setting’ of being ‘deeply and literally self-centred’ and trying to live ‘consciously, adultly, day in and day out’.
Attention and compassion form the very deep core of DFW’s writing, and are the reason I return to his work, again and again.

The zine is my own modest attempt to practice attention by dedicating some time to noticing the ‘stuff’ of daily life for a week – and to record things I see, find, overhear, read, and say each day. The zine contains both words and images and are always hand-made, a page made each day, with the idea of giving time and respect to documenting these daily experiences.

Issue 3 was made over the New Year period when I spent a week at the seaside with family and friends. I had been given David Lipsky’s ‘Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace’ for Christmas and this was my holiday reading.  I had just finished re-reading Infinite Jest and I found Lipsy’s book, written shortly after the publication of Infinite Jest, both fascinating and almost unbearably sad.

Jean McEwan, UK based visual artist and independent curator

To find out more about Issues 1-3 of This Is Water, visit

“Consider David Foster Wallace” Conference – part IV

Julius, the moderator, asked the panelists about the recurring themes of adolescence and adulthood in Wallace’s works.  Laura brought up the obvious connections between Hamlet and Infinite Jest, focusing particularly on those between Prince Hamlet and Hal Incandenza as both try to escape the legacies of their parents’ generations.

On this topic of adolescence, Jonathan brought up the interesting biological idea of neoteny.  Neoteny is an evolutionary principle in which adult members of a species retain certain infantile or adolescent or even ancestral traits that give the organism a survival advantage.  He applied this idea both to Wallace’s characters and to Wallace himself as a writer.  Many of his characters – and again most of this portion of the discussion focused on IJ – rely on childlike behavior to cope and to survive.  Additionally, Infinite Jest is full on childish, sometimes infantile, jokes and silliness.[1]  Others of his stories can also be seen as childlike and immature.[2]

As a writer, Wallace placed great value on the things of childhood.  As one of the panelists said (I believe it was still Jonathan talking), great art comes from childish behavior, and the act of playing matters even in the adult world.  He went on to explain how Wallace exalts in his writing things[3] that most other writers “grow out of.”

Daniel chimed in during this part of the discussion to highlight the fact that most of Wallace’s writing has a certain self-conscious, juvenile affect to it, until we get to The Pale King.  His last, unfinished novel stands out in that it is much more “grown-up” than his other works.  The characters, themes, and conflicts are all much more mature than those in his earlier works.

The last topic of conversation brought up by Julius was the power of language.  The question was asked, what is art – in whatever form it takes – for?  The panelists discussed how Wallace might answer such a question.  They talked about how he didn’t seem to hold much of an “art for art’s sake” attitude, but rather that art – and especially fiction – ought to serve a purpose.  And in Wallace’s writing, much of that purpose was to explore and address real moral issues and problems.  His writing was very philosophical, engaging in dialogue with the likes of Wittgenstein and Kierkegaard,[4] among others.  Good fiction ought to have a positive value.

Before opening it up for questions from the floor, Julius asked each of the panelists for a non-Infinite-Jest-related reading recommendation.  Daniel’s two recommendations were The Pale King and the short story “Good Old Neon” from Oblivion.  Jonathan’s recommendations were “Westward the Course of Empire Takes It’s Way” from Girl with Curious Hair and “Brief Interview #20,” the “Granola Cruncher” story from Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.  Laura had several recommendations: the entirety of Girl with Curious Hair, the Dostoyevsky review in Consider the Lobster, and the previously mentioned “E Unibus Pluram” from A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.[5]

Julius thanked the panelists for their lively discussion and wonderful insights into both the writing and person of David Foster Wallace while the audience enthusiastically applauded.  A majority of the crowd left at that point, but a few people stuck around to ask questions of the panel.

As the crowd died down, I made my way up to the front to ask a question of DT Max.  I waited my turn as others asked him questions, and finally had my chance.  I shook his hand, introduced myself, and asked him what he thought of the role religion and spirituality played in Wallace’s life and writing.  He thought it an interesting question that he hadn’t seen any obvious answers to.  We discussed several examples from his fiction, primarily from The Pale King.  I mentioned how “Good People” was probably the more real and authentic depiction of a Christian faith I’ve ever read.  I asked about the references to church in his nonfiction, such as “The View from Mrs. Thompson’s” and the end of AOCYEUBY.  Daniel said that some of the “church” references in his nonfiction were a cover for AA groups.

We talked about these various examples and through out questions for each other to consider for a good five minutes.  We didn’t arrive at any definitive answers – none probably exist – but concluded that Wallace saw the importance of faith and religious community in an individual’s life.  And both Wallace’s fiction and nonfiction writings have a very moral and didactic bent to them.  If anything, I think I left my short conversation with DT Max with more questions than I had before I introduced myself and with a greater desire to pursue this line of thought.

I left the Ballroom and walked across the darkened campus to my car.  Four pages of notes and too many thoughts and questions to even begin to count.  I tried to begin processing it all on my drive home, but it had been hours since I last ate.  Fortunately I had spotted what looked to be a good Mexican food restaurant on my way to the College.  So I topped off my wonderful evening with a delicious carne asada burrito.

It had been a good day.

[1] I haven’t gotten more than about 60 pages into the behemoth of a book.  But I have engaged in and listened in on plenty of conversations about the book, and I’ve see plenty of quotes from the book online, so I’ve come across many of these jokes.[back]

[2] “Forever Overhead” comes instantly to mind, as does “Little Expressionless Animals.”  The first is a coming of age story of a thirteen-year-old boy; the second has an ensemble cast of physically mature adults all trapped in juvenile and immature relationships with others.[back]

[3] I don’t recall what any of those “things” are, or if he even gave specific examples.  But the YouTube video should be able to fill in any gaps here.[back]

[4] These are philosophers whose writings are on my “to-read” list as I proceed with my reading and research into the spiritual and religious themes in Wallace’s works.[back]

[5] A number of these I have not yet read, but based on their descriptions, I think I will be diving into “Good Old Neon” next.  Though rather dark sounding,* it seems like it would be a fascinating character study.

* It is a first-person narration of someone who has just committed suicide, explaining all his reasons for doing so.[back]

“Consider David Foster Wallace” Conference – part III

“Fiction is about what it means to be a f***ing human being.”

The panelists – DT Max, Jonathan Letham, and Laura Miller – went on to describe how unique and different Wallace was from his contemporaries.  His novels and short stories were not the self-indulgent metafiction that dominated the literary fiction of the 1980’s.  And while other writers and much of academia focused on the international literary scene, Wallace’s fiction had a distinctly American feel to it.  He wrestled with what it meant to be an American in the late Twentieth Century, in all its glory and all its vices.  In his consummate nonfiction piece, “E Unibus Pluram,” he explains and describes many of the problems that exist in Twentieth Century American life, and these themes are then illustrated throughout his fiction as well.

Not only was Wallace unique in his style and subject matter, the panelists went on to say, but also in his purpose and approach to literature.  I believe it was Laura who first brought it up, and the others echoed the point, that Wallace was a very moral and even didactic writer.[1]  He wrote about very real – and very difficult – aspects of our humanity.  In the midst of this discussion, Daniel quoted what is perhaps Wallace’s most famous line,[2] that “fiction is about what it means to be a f***ing human being.”  It is through the reading and writing of fiction that we wrestle with our own humanity, that we try to make sense of the absurd and nonsensical.  Daniel went on to say that, in his estimation, there has not been such a moral writer since Dostoyevsky.

Part of this moral didacticism was Wallace’s tackling of two of the biggest – and most intertwined – problems in American society: entertainment and addiction, the two primary themes in his magnum opus Infinite Jest.  Daniel explained that the original title for the book was A Failed Entertainment[3] and that the book itself functions similarly to other addictive substances.  By beginning the book at or near the end of the story, the reader is left feeling unsatisfied and must go back and begin reading it again to satisfy those unfulfilled feelings.

In Infinite Jest, Wallace explores the role of faith and 12-Step programs in the recovery process of addiction.  As the panelists explained, these AA-type programs depend on clichés and platitudes to be successful.  Despite their banality, these clichés are real and effective and meaningful, and recovering addicts must put their faith in the truth of these statements in order to break free from their addictions.[4]  It is a humbling experience to put one’s faith in something that seems so simple, to realize that one is not too smart for words that are so trite and banal, to know that one cannot simply outsmart his addiction.

In addition to being a very morally didactic writer, Wallace was also a very personal one.  One of the panelists[5] pointed out that most of his characters are trying to break free from their own solipsism and believe that other characters in their world exist; they are trying to see inside the other.  They want to know they are not alone.  In the same way, Wallace used his writing to bridge the gap between selfs and connect on a very personal level with his readers.[6]  It is this personalness that draws such a loyal following of readers, and it is this sense of connection between writer and reader that drew a packed house to the Pomona College campus that Saturday evening in February.


[1] I don’t use these descriptors – nor did the panelists use them – in the “Aesop’s Fables” sense of the words.  But rather, he dealt with very moral issues and asked very moral questions, but unlike the fables of old he never answered the questions or concluded with a “slow and steady wins the race” sort of thing.  He just threw the idea out there to let us – the readers – wallow in it for awhile and try to figure it out on our own.[back]

[2] It was inevitable.  Someone had to repeat the quote.*  If none of the panelists did, I would have felt obliged to take the microphone during the Q & A just so that the line would be spoken.

*I began my paper for the Antwerp conference with the line, and I believe at least three other presenters quoted it in their papers as well.[back]

[3] I believe this is also brought up in Lipsky’s book, Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself.[back]

[4] Although it wasn’t specifically mentioned during the discussion, this is the central message of Wallace’s Kenyon College speech: the life and death importance of the totally ordinary and banal.[back]

[5] At this point, nearly a month after the event as I look at my notes, I don’t recall which one.  This is what I get for waiting so long* to write about the conference.

*It hasn’t been out of laziness or procrastination that I have waited this long.  Moving into second semester and now just a few months before AP exams, my grading load has increased exponentially over the last few weeks.  Plus I have other writing projects I am working on.

I have plenty of excuses, but very few of them are good ones.[back]

[6] My friend Maria Bustillos wrote a wonderful piece last year about her trip to the Wallace archives, during which she was particularly drawn to his own collection of self-help books.  In that piece, she describes in much better detail than I do here Wallace’s desire to connect with others through his writing.[back]

Two Years and Counting…

It was just over two and a half years ago that my wife first handed me a copy of “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” saying “here, I think you’ll like this.”  I loved it.  And thus, my life has not been the same since.

About this time two years ago my wife and I sat on our couch watching Nora Ephron’s Julie and Julia, the film that inspired me to begin this blog.  And once again, my life took a turn in an unexpected direction.

Two years into this project, I am far from completing my goal of reading and blogging my way through Wallace’s entire canon.  To date, I’ve only finished Consider the Lobster, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, The Pale King, and David Lipsky’s transcription of his week-long interview with Wallace, Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself.  In addition, I’ve written about a number of uncollected pieces ranging from short stories published in the New Yorker to his syllabus for and Intro to Fiction class.

This writing endeavor has been all I’d hoped for and beyond anything I could have imagined.  I started this blog needing focus and discipline in my writing.  Working toward a tangible goal has helped me gain those things, as well has helped me in shaping and developing my written voice.  In studying Wallace and emulating his style and voice, I have begun to find my own.

But this journey has been so much more.  It has opened up a world to me previously unknown.  Because of this blog I stumbled upon the Wallace-l community, making many friends and engaging in wonderful conversation.  For a time, I helped run the group blog, Supposedly Fun Things…, experiencing the ironies and absurdities of life with some of my fellow writers.  And I was able to meet several listers in person for the first time at The Pale King release party at Skylight Books in Hollywood.

Writing this blog has given me opportunities I never thought I’d be afforded.  Last spring, I was approached about participating in an online tribute to Wallace on commemorating the release of The Pale King.  Shortly after this, I saw a post on Wallace-l requesting proposals for an academic conference focusing on The Pale King hosted by the University of Antwerp.  It’s amazing what 500 words can do.  My proposal was accepted, and a couple months later I was on a flight to Belgium to join some of the greatest scholars in the field of Wallace studies as we blazed the trail for discussion and criticism of Wallace’s final novel.

While in Antwerp I was inspired to take my studies of Wallace’s works in a new direction.  A number of the presenters alluded to the religious, and specifically Christian, themes in TPK and others of Wallace’s novels.  This was something I need to pursue further, and thus begins a new direction and focus in my blogging endeavors here.  In order to write about these themes in his writing, I need to read and ponder the rest of his canon.

So with the new year just a few weeks away, I am renewing my commitment to see this project through to its completion.  I want to turn this new train of thought into a book one day – The Gospel According to David Foster Wallace – and I will be diligent to finish this blog with that end in mind.

I still can’t believe where this blog has taken me, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

… And I invite you to continue this journey with me.

A Really Fun Thing I’d Love to Do Again – Day 3, Part 2

Thursday, September 22, 2011

After the coffee break, I felt a great sense of relief.  My presentation was done.  The months of hard work and agonizing over getting my paper just right had all been worth it.  It had all been worth it.  I could now sit back and truly enjoy the rest of the conference and give my full attention to the rest of the presentations.

The final session of the afternoon began with Charles Nixon’s presentation which focused on the importance of awareness and concentration in the novel, paying special attention to sections 5 and 6.  Charles had spent several weeks earlier in the year at the Harry Ransom Center viewing the Wallace archives doing research for his doctoral thesis.  That alone made him the envy of the rest of us and the go-to guy for all things Wallace-Archive related.[1]

Charles was followed by Clare Hayes-Brady.  Her presentation centered on the enigmatic title of the novel and the potential connection to the John Keats poem, “La Belle Dame sans Merci.”  She pointed to a number of connections between the characters in the novel and the figures in the poem, making a strong case for this poem being the source of the title.  Additionally, her analysis of the text in light of the poem made some conjecture as to who this mysterious “Pale King” might be in the novel.

During the Q & A, Matt Balliro inquired about the possible ties – in light of the poem – between the politics of the novel and the politics of the British Romantic era.  Clare acknowledged the possibility of some correlations, but admitted she hadn’t taken her research down that path yet.[2]  Matt’s question got me thinking, and I followed his question with a wondering-aloud comment about whether Wallace may have not only been alluding to the similarities in political landscape between the British Romantic period and 1980’s America in which the novel is set, but also making a spiritual or religious connection as well.  Clare and others in the room concurred that this could be a strong possibility given the frequent supernatural occurrences in TPK and other of Wallace’s works.

The Panel Chair thanked the presenters as they returned to their seats to gather there things.  Toon made some closing remarks to end the first day of the conference as my mind continued swirling with ideas for further research and reading:  Was there more to this connection between Wallace and Lewis?  What were Wallace’s views on religion and faith, and Christianity in particular?  Was there more to this than Wallace’s writing about members of his church in “The View from Mrs. Thompson’s,” and the comment at the end of the Lipsky book about his heading off to a church social event?  And what about the very authentic – almost raw – portrayal of Lane Dean Jr.’s struggles of faith?  I’ve never read a more honest and sincere depiction of the Christian faith, not even in the Christian fiction that I’ve read.  There must be something there worth uncovering; and even if there isn’t, the journey to the dead end would be a helluva ride.

At this point in the day – it was around 5:30pm – I was utterly exhausted.  I was going on maybe six hours sleep in the past two days and had had very little to eat throughout the day.  Plus my nerves were spent from my earlier presentation.  But our day was far from over.  The plan was to meet up again in the courtyard outside in roughly 90 minutes to walk to the restaurant for dinner.  We had a 7:30 reservation.  There was a small part of me considering calling it an evening, finding somewhere cheap and close by for dinner, and getting to bed nice and early.  But I didn’t want to be the only one not attending.  Many left to go back to their hotels to change and freshen up, but that option seemed out of the question for me.  My hotel was farthest from the University campus, so it would take almost the entire 90 minutes just to walk there and back – especially considering my state of exhaustion – so it seemed hardly worthwhile.

Toon invited me to join him and some of the others who were headed to a nearby café for drinks.  While certainly too tired to enjoy one of the many delectable Belgian beers I had heard so much about, the conversation sounded promising.  So I followed the pack to the café a few blocks down the road.

Everyone else ordered local specialties, except for me with my glass of tepid tap water.  I spent much of the time talking with Jan – a soon-to-be grad student who recently moved to town to study at the University of Antwerp – and Toon and his girlfriend / co-organizer, Leis.  We talked some Wallace,[3] but mostly listened to a brief Belgian social studies lesson from Toon.  Apparently Belgium was on its way to breaking the world record for the longest span – some 500+ days – without a functioning government,[4] a feat he almost seemed somewhat proud of.  I did note some of the interesting parallels – as well as stark differences – between Belgian history and politics and the American history and politics I had grown up with.  I a way, I was almost jealous of the long, rich history of his country.[5]

Soon enough it was time to rejoin the others back at the University for our dinner.  After everyone had arrived, we walked to the restaurant, whose brightly painted walls and gaudy décor was best described by someone in the group as “kitschy.”  We sat at two long tables in the back room;[6] I sat with and talked mostly with Tom, Clare, Mark, and Charles.  Conversation came easily among us as a personal anecdote often led into a discussion of a scene from one of Wallace’s novels or short stories, which then led into talking about another of our favorite scenes.  It was a wonderful time of getting to know each other as we shared insights into the life and writing of the man who had brought us all together for these two days.[7]

The food was incredible; I had the pesto chicken and pasta while most of those around me had the bloody rare steak.  The fries that came with their cuts of beef soon became communal.  They were quite tasty.  Though the wine was flowing freely, I once again abstained.  I didn’t want to pass out during the walk back to my hotel.

The evening went very quickly as we talked and laughed and ate and drank.  At about 10pm, I thought it would be best to head back to my hotel.  While the food had given me a short energy boost, my body was crying out for sleep.  I was one of the first to leave the party; the others were making plans to move the frivolity to a nearby café to continue fun.[8]  When I arrived at my hotel and climbed into bed – not wanting a repeat of the previous night and suffering from the nasal and ocular symptoms of prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke – I took a Benadryl before going to bed.

Should have set an alarm as well.

[1] We all loved hearing the stories he had about what he found while reading old drafts and notes in the archives.  We must have looked like kids on the playground listening to a friend recounting the plot of a movie none of us were allowed to watch.  Each of us had the dream of one day visiting the HRC – the Mecca for Wallace fans and scholars – and Charles had lived the dream and was allowing us to live it vicariously through his stories.

[2] Clare had just finished and submitted her doctoral thesis* on Wallace – although this presentation was not part of that paper – a few weeks before the conference, so her nonanswer was certainly understandable.

*which I received word this past week that she was successful in her thesis defense and had officially been “indoctrinated.”  Congrats, Clare.

[3] How could you not after the day’s presentations?

[4] My cynical side was ready with all kinds of jokes and wisecracks about the “functionality” of our American government back home, but I was way too tired to attempt to put more than about three words together into a coherent sentence.  So I mostly just sat and listened.

[5] I mean there were probably ashtrays on the café tables outside with more history than anything I was accustomed to back home.

[6] Not only did the large size of the group warrant the large back room, but the conversation quickly became very lively and enthusiastic, giving another reason why management would likely assign us the back room.

[7] Someone would later mention that it felt very much like the reception after the memorial service when everyone starts sharing their favorite stories about their very good friend.  I couldn’t have agreed more with the analogy.

[8] I would hear the next morning that most didn’t leave the café – quite a dive, apparently – until after 2am, so I am glad I called it an early night.